By Kedrick Storey
WALNUT – Walnut running back Armani Linton and fullback Kylan Crum scored two touchdowns each, and the Wildcats racked up 265 rushing yards in a 34-14 homecoming win over the Benton County Buccaneers in the first meeting between the schools.
Walnut, which has won five straight, is 5-1 to start a season for the first time since 2010.
“I’m certainly proud of the kids coming out and playing the way they did tonight,” said second-year Walnut coach John Meeks. “Benton County is athletic and big up front, and that caused us some problems. They made it difficult, but I thought we responded well.”
Walnut got a score on its first drive of the game, a 26-yard TD run from receiver Ty Huffman on a reverse for a 7-0 lead with 10:21 to play in the opening quarter.
Things slowed until Linton added two second-quarter scores. From the Wildcat formation on both trips to the end zone, the junior went in from 26 yards out and then added a 10-yard scamper for a 20-0 lead with 3:31 left in the half.
Linton led all rushers with 146 yards on 21 carries, as the Wildcats out gained Benton Co. (0-5) 321-144.
Crum added second-half scores of 4 and 5 yards, respectively.
“I wasn’t planning on him (Linton) running that much, but we had a hurt fullback. Armani got a lot of carries, and he made the most of them,” added Meeks.
Bucs get in end zone
The Buccaneers got on the board following Linton’s score when Terrenz Mason returned a kick 95 yards for a score. Mason added an 83-yard TD run in the fourth quarter.
Benton County Coach Eric Rice said his young Ashland/Hickory Flat co-op squad is a work in progress but improving.
“I was proud we didn’t give up. We continued to fight,” Rice said. “They could have given up, but they put another score on the board. That’s just a testament to the guys we have.”