By PATRICK CASEY
Walton forced five turnovers over the final 11 minutes of the game as the Braves defeated Northview 26-12 at Everette Yates Memorial Stadium on Friday night.
Senior defensive back Christian Adams provided the final score of the game as he picked the football out of the air in the endzone after a teammate blasted Northview quarterback Dalton Tullis for a quick defensive touchdown with 1:56 left in the fourth quarter that sealed the win.
The game moved quickly for three quarters of the contest as both teams kept the ball on the ground for most of the night with the two defenses limiting most rushing attempts to short gains.
Northview took a 6-0 lead on their first possession of the game as the Chiefs moved 65 yards in seven plays with running back Ladarius Thomas scoring on a 1-yard plunge for the early lead.
Walton answered after a short punt set the Braves up at the visiting team’s 38-yard line with Amos Williams capping the drive with a 9-yard run with 2:31 left in the first quarter. Thomas Brack added the extra point to give the host squad a lead that they would never relinquish.
Walton struck again on their next possession as the Braves drove 73 yards for a touchdown with sophomore running back Azende Rey scampering in from nine yards out to push the lead to 14-6 with 8:11 left in the half.
Northview moved the ball into Braves territory on each of their final three drives of the half only to be forced to punt each time as the game went to intermission with an 8-point lead for the host squad.
Northview put together a long drive on their first possession of the second half only to have the Braves stop them on downs at the 10-yard line.
Walton’s ensuing possession saw Williams hook up with receiver Raheem Phillips on a 75-yard bomb for a touchdown that put the Braves ahead 20-6 with 1:32 left in the third quarter.
Northview moved into Walton territory again but fumbled the ball away only to have the Braves return the favor seconds later, setting the Chiefs up at the 20-yard line. Walton’s defense then held on four plays to get the ball back at the 15-yard line only to be forced to punt.
Norhview fumbled again in Braves territory with 7:15 left in the game only to see Walton punt it back once more with 4:50 remaining.
Truth Richardson picked off a pass to stop the Chiefs’ next drive but Walton tossed one of their own as Rey was intercepted on a halfback option pass with 2:11 left in the game at the 6-yard line of the Chiefs.
Walton then added the Adams interception for a touchdown on the second play of Northview’s possession to finish the Braves scoring for the night.
Northview posted their only other score of the game with 18 seconds left in the contest as Neino Robinson hauled in a 19-yard pass from Tullis to trim the lead to 26-12.
Northview recovered an onside kick but Tullis was picked off for the third time in the quarter when Daiquan Brown took away a pass down the field to end the game.
The two teams combined for seven turnovers in the final 11 minutes of the game but Walton’s defense held the defending Class A state champion at bay for most of the night.
Walton (5-3) will travel to East Gadsden (3-5) to face the Jaguars in the final District 1, Class 4A contest for both teams this season. Kickoff is set for 6:30 p.m.