By PATRICK CASEY
Walton senior Isaac Morrison knocked down a two-point conversion pass on the final play of the game as the Braves snatched a come-from-behind victory in overtime from the Chipley Tigers 33-31 in front of a packed Homecoming crowd at Everette Yates Memorial Stadium on Friday night.
Walton rallied from a 25-12 halftime deficit behind senior quarterback Amos Williams as he ran for 262 yards, including a school record 98-yard touchdown run, to tie the game at 25-all with 8:11 remaining in regulation.
The Braves got off to a good start as the host squad scored on their opening possession of the game, marching 41 yards for a touchdown with Williams running in from 23 yards out for a 6-0 lead.
Chipley responded on their next possession with a 58-yard scoring drive that saw Tigers senior quarterback Jordan Finch hit receiver Darren Stewart with a 35-yard touchdown pass that tied the game at 6-all.
Walton fumbled the ball away on their next possession and the Tigers went back to work, driving 51 yards for another score as fullback Wyatt Brock plowed in from two yards out to give the Washington County team a 12-6 lead.
The Braves were not behind for long as they came back with a 65-yard drive that saw Williams get loose on a 53-yard run to tie the game at 12-all.
Chipley turned to senior running back Kobe McCrary on their next possession as he pounded away at the Braves defense, breaking loose on a 19-yard run to put the Tigers back on top 19-12 with 9:49 to go in the first half.
Fumbles on the Braves’ next two possessions stopped promising drives and when receiver Zack Campbell shook loose on a screen pass from poor Braves tackling for an 83-yard touchdown, the crowd began to get nervous that Walton would drop their third consecutive Homecoming game.
The mood remained somber after Walton drove to the Chipley 1-yard line but failed to score as time expired. The Tigers were able to stop Williams just short of the goalline for a 25-12 halftime advantage.
Walton started the second half with a renewed purpose as they tried to eliminate mistakes that saw three drives end in Chipley territory without any points in the first half. The Braves took the second half kickoff and moved 65 yards for a touchdown as Williams ran in from three yards out to cut the lead to 25-19 with Jackson Henderson’s extra point.
Walton forced punts on the Tigers’ next two possessions but a holding call took away another touchdown run by Williams and eventually cost the Braves yet another scoring opportunity as the home team turned the ball over on downs with 11:52 to go in the game.
Chipley moved the length of the field but could not score on four plays inside the Braves’ 10-yard line as the defense held on a fourth and goal pass play from just outside the 1-yard line. The highlight of the night occurred on the next play as Williams took the first snap of the possession 98 yards for a touchdown right in front of the Walton sidelines to tie the game at 25-all. Jackson Henderson was unable to add the extra point as both teams struggled to put the ball through the field goal posts on the night, combining to fail on seven extra points or two-point conversions in the game.
After a Chipley punt with 6:41 left in the game, Walton made what looked to be a critical error as Williams was hit trying to throw the football with Tigers linebacker Bradley Hall picking the pigskin out of the air for an interception that set Chipley up at the Braves 48-yard line.
The Tigers proceeded to move the ball inside the Walton 10-yard line but were once again kept out of the endzone by a tenacious Walton defense that knocked away a touchdown pass attempt on fourth down to regain possession of the football with 92 seconds left in the game.
Walton moved the football out to their own 45-yard line but time ran out before the Braves could put any points on the scoreboard, forcing the second overtime contest of the season for the Walton County team.
Chipley won the coin toss and elected to go on defense as the Braves started on the 10-yard line with four downs to score. Williams took the first play for nine yards but came up just short of the goalline. After the Tigers stopped Azende Rey for a short loss, Williams was bottled up at the 4-yard line on a sweep to the left, only to produce a spin move that freed him up as he dashed in for a touchdown. The Braves then ran a trick play on the setup for the extra point as Walton snapped the ball to Daiquan Brown who dashed in to the left corner of the endzone for a 33-25 lead.
Chipley did not give up as McCrary ran for two yards on the first play of the Tigers’ possession with Finch throwing two incomplete passes on the next two downs to set up a fourth down play. Finch then lofted a perfect pass to the right corner of the north endzone with receiver Zack Campbell making a sensational grab in the back corner for a touchdown. The Tigers then went to McCrary to tie the game on a two-point conversion run only to be flagged for an illegal shift penalty for having too many players in motion before the snap. Operating from just outside the 7-yard line, Finch lofted a pass to the right flat in the endzone that Morrison went up and knocked away to set off the winning celebration for the Braves.
The Braves, who posted their sixth consecutive win in the series against Chipley, had 527 yards of total offense in the game but committed four costly turnovers. Raheem Phillips hauled in seven passes for 102 yards while Rey added 63 yards on the ground.
Chipley fell to 2-1 overall with the loss and had two critical drives deep into Walton territory end without points in the fourth quarter to keep the Braves’ comeback attempt alive.
At halftime, Christina Graves was named the school’s 2013 Homecoming Queen with Levico Thompson chosen as Homecoming King.
Walton(3-1) will travel to Bonifay on Friday night to face a Holmes County squad that is 0-4 this season and has been outscored 161-12 in 2013. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. at Memorial Stadium.