By Kedrick Storey
FALKNER – In a game that went back and fourth from the opening kick, Walnut made the final play – a 70-yard kick return by Armani Linton – to upend Falkner 38-32 in the 12th Joe Bowl.
“I’m speechless right now,” said Linton, who found a seam after an impromptu reverse and raced to the end zone as the last 11 seconds kicked off the clock. They trailed 33-32 at the time. “My coach called on me to make a big play.”
“That was crazy, but I can’t take the credit,” said Walnut coach John Meeks. “Ty Huffman told me they keep kicking it to him, but he thought Armani could score if he came off the edge on a reverse.”
Linton was big for Walnut, rushing 17 times for 97 yards and a score. He also caught three Will Quinn passes for 82 yards and two touchdowns (54, 16) in the fourth quarter, for over 240 total yards.
Falkner led after every quarter and even with 11 seconds remaining after a 12-yard TD pass from Jase Stroupe to chris Blackmon, but it wouldn’t be enough. First-year head coach Cory Armstrong said they didn’t make enough plays to win.
“We had 10 guys doing right and one guy doing wrong all night,” Armstrong said. “There at the end, they made the play. We didn’t tackle.”
Walnut (1-1) rolled up 389 yards of total offense as they take the Joe Bowl Trophy back to Walnut. Falkner (1-1) which had 115 total yards in the first quarter totaled only 244. Falkner Running back Jeramie Lawrence was held to 69 rushing yards, but had a 54-yard TD run to close the first half and give Falkner a 19-13 lead.
Walnut quarterback Will Quinn was six for 10 for 183 yards, three TDs and three interceptions.