By Kedrick Storey
WALNUT – The Walnut Wildcats had an ugly first half against the Middleton, Tenn., Tigers. Thank goodness for the second half.
Facing a 15-6 halftime deficit, the Wildcats completely dominated after returning to the field, scoring 30 unanswered points in the third quarter on their way to a 44-15 win. It was the third straight victory for Walnut.
“We were not ready to play at the start of the game,” said Walnut coach John Meeks. “We saw two game films where Middleton struggled, and we thought it was going to be easy. We did some major readjustments at halftime. We challenged them to defend the home field and they made it happen.”
Walnut (3-1) had 163 total yards in a mistake-prone first half. However, in the third quarter they rushed for 180 yards on 17 carries. They blocked two Middleton punts and recovered two Middleton fumbles. After back-to-back rushing touchdowns from Kylan Crum and one each from Armani Linton and Monterio Hunt, the Wildcats led 36-15 heading into the fourth quarter.
The Wildcats had three players to rush for at least 70 yards, led by Shawn Thornton’s 77 on 10 carries. Crum added 76 yards on 10 attempts with three rushing scores. He added a 12-yard TD run in the fourth quarter for Walnut’s final score. Linton had 12 carries for 73 yards and scored twice. He had a 4-yard TD run in the first quarter. The trio helped Walnut rush for 331 yards.
“We were happy to get the run game going in the second half,” added Meeks. “We felt like we had the momentum and we wanted to keep pounding it.”
Middleton (0-4) totaled 174 total yards in the first half, led by quarterback Keon Pimpkin who was 5-9 for 124 yards and tossed two touchdowns to Rodreco Britteman of 16 and 39 yards. Walnut would limit Middleton to minus-12 total yards in the third quarter and not much more in the fourth.