Joe Bowl No. 13 goes to Wildcats

football_icon_greenBy Kedrick Storey

Southern Sentinel

WALNUT – Falkner won the game on the stat sheet. The Walnut Wildcats won where it really mattered – the scoreboard.

Thursday in a classic between North Tippah rivals, Walnut rallied from a 21-12 third-quarter deficit to defeat Falkner 28-21 in the 13th Joe Bowl.

“Such a hard-fought win,” said Walnut coach John Meeks. “I’ve got to give Falkner tons of credit. They dominated the line of scrimmage, but we got a few stops and caught some breaks at crucial times.”

Falkner outgained Walnut 343-287, but Walnut got a huge 70-yard kick return from Dandy Dozen athlete Armani Linton with 2:37 to play in the third quarter to pull the Wildcats to within 21-20. Linton finished with 128 rushing yards on 22 carries and a rushing score.

“I ran with my heart on my shoulders and God was with me the whole night,” said Linton.

Walnut won it on an 8-play, 66-yard drive capped with a 18-yard TD run by QB Will Quinn on a busted play with 5:01 remaining. With no timeouts over the final five minutes, Falkner’s hopes ended at the midfield on a turnover on downs.

Running back Jeramie Lawrence had all three scores – one rushing, two receiving – for Falkner, totaling 166 yards.

“We needed a game like this,” said Falkner coach Quess Hood. “We needed somebody to test us and Walnut did.”

Falkner quarterback Jase Stroupe finished 4-for-7 for 119 yards and two scores.

Extra Points

Turning Point: Walnut’s Armani Linton’s 70-yard kick return for a score and 2-point conversion cut Falkner’s lead to 21-20 with 2:37 left in third quarter.

Point Man: Linton totaled 213 yards and two TDs.

Talking Point: “I hope they win every game they play, after this one.” – John Meeks on Falkner.

kedrick.storey@journalinc.com