By PATRICK CASEY
John Querisma’s 34-yard interception return to start the third quarter turned the momentum for the Walton Braves as the visiting team scored 28 unanswered points on the way to a 35-7 victory over the Freeport Bulldogs.
The game was tied at 7-7 at halftime as Nathan Hendrickson’s 85-yard kickoff return with 7:21 left in the first half immediately knotted up the contest after Walton’s Issac Jackson had scored from eight yards out to give Walton a short-lived lead.
Querisma’s interception on the second play of the half set Walton up at the Freeport 19-yard line, leading to Issac Jackson’s 2-yard run that put Walton back in front 14-7.
The Walton defense took over from there as the Braves held the Bulldogs to one yard of total offense in the third quarter. Walton did tack on another score with less than a minute to play in the third quarter as Walton senior quarterback Tarrell Bramlet raced in around the left side from ten yards out to up the advantage to 21-7.
Issac Jackson provided the finishing blows as the senior running back scored on runs of 33 and 76 yards to stretch the lead to 35-7. Jackson accounted for 204 yards on 22 carries to lead the Walton rushing attack.
Freeport quarterback Cole Weeks played valiantly but was harassed constantly by the Walton pass rush as he managed to complete only four passes for 18 yards.
Hendrickson led the Bulldogs running backs with 33 rushing yards as the Bulldogs played the Braves even for a half.
The Freeport defense stopped Walton on the Bulldogs’ side of the field three times in the first half, capitalizing on a fumble by Walton at the Freeport 5-yard line on the opening drive of the game to stave off the first scoring threat. The Bulldogs were able to sack Bramlet twice on that night, but wore down in the second half of play.
Freeport’s best drive of the night came in the final quarter of the game as the Bulldogs marched from their own 31-yard line to Walton’s 10, but were unable to put points on the board as Walton held them on downs with 2:21 to play in the game.
Deron Hogans led all receivers with six catches for 91 yards, including several key grabs that went for first downs.
Walton did lose freshman defensive lineman Dalvon Stuckey to a broken leg in the first half of play.
Walton (1-0) will host FAMU High from Tallahassee on Friday, September 12, while Freeport (0-1) will travel to Holmes County to take on the Bluedevils. Both games are set for 7 p.m. kickoffs.
SCORE BY QUARTERS 1 2 3 4 F
WALTON 0 7 14 14 35
FREEPORT 0 7 0 0 7
WAL- Jackson 8 run (Ford kick)
FRE- Hendrickson 85 kickoff return (Farmer kick)
WAL- Jackson 2 run (Ford kick)
WAL- Bramlet 10 run (Ford kick)
WAL- Jackson 33 run (Ford kick)
WAL- Jackson 76 run (Ford kick)
TEAM STATISTICS WAL FRE
First Downs 17 8
Rushes-Yards 40-290 29-60
Passing Yards 162 18
Comp.-Att.-Int. 9-18-0 4-19-1
Plays-Total Offense 58-452 48-78
Return Yards 77 141
Punts-Average 2-37 7-34
Fumbles-Lost 3-1 3-0
Interceptions-Yards Ret 1-34 0-0
Penalties-Yards 7-59 4-35
Time Of Poss 23:51 24:09
Rushing: WAL- Jackson 22-204, Dorsey 4-39, Williams 4-25, Querisma 2-13, Bramlet 7-7, Holmes 1-2.
FRE- Hendrickson 13-33, Binder 5-21, Wesson 5-19, Hooter 2-4, Holmes 2-2, Weeks 2-(-19).
Passing: WAL- Bramlet 9-18-0-162. FRE- Weeks 4-19-1-18.
Receiving: WAL- Hogans 6-91, Williams 1-57, Stone 1-8, Dorsey 1-6. FRE- Henshaw 1-14, Reynolds 1-4, Binder 1-1, Hendrickson 1-(-1).