By Johnathan Bentley
The Daily Mountain Eagle
JASPER — Playoffs or not, Walker isn’t going down without a fight.
The Vikings’ defense stepped up again and again as they picked up a 17-7 victory over Pinson Valley Friday night.
Walker held Pinson Valley running back Nick Gibson in check, just a week after the junior ran for 447 yards and six touchdowns in a win over Mortimer Jordan, garnering two statewide player of the week awards. Against the Vikings, Gibson rushed for 120 yards on 22 carries and never reached the end zone.
“We talked about (Gibson) all week,” Walker senior linebacker Austin Mansell said. “He’s a tremendous player and we knew we couldn’t let him beat us. I couldn’t be more proud of our defense and the way we played tonight.”
Down by a field goal, the Indians put together two long drives in the second half, but Walker’s defense shut them down in the red zone. A 13-play drive stalled at the Walker 30-yard line in the third quarter and a 17-play drive ended at the Walker 10-yard line in the fourth quarter, after a game-tying field goal attempt went wide left.
The game was scoreless was until the second quarter, when Marlon Oliver went into the end zone from three yards out. The score was set up by a 32-yard run by quarterback Bryant Atkins.
Later in the quarter, Walker got a 21-yard run to set up the Vikings at the Pinson Valley 29-yard line. Five plays later, Ran Crump made a 29-yard field goal with 1:20 remaining in the half to give Walker a 10-0 halftime lead.
Pinson Valley opened the third quarter with a 78-yard kickoff return by Juray Smith for a score.
The Vikings shut down the Indians from there and put the game away with an Oliver touchdown with just over two minutes remaining in the contest.
Walker took advantage of the momentum swing and drove 80 yards in eight plays for a touchdown to put the game out of reach. Oliver did most of the damage, breaking free of a 28-yard gain on a key fourth-and-1 play at the Pinson Valley 46-yard line. He followed with a five-yard run and 13-yard touchdown run.
Oliver finished with 137 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries. He was at his best with the game on the line, rushing six times for 61 yards in the fourth quarter. Atkins rushed 12 times for 81 yards and also completed 7-of-11 passes for 74 yards.
Indians quarterback Brooks Garrett went to the air quite a bit, but didn’t have much yardage to show for it — 16 completions on 33 attempts for 77 yards.
The Vikings are playing for pride, after they were banned from the post-season for their former coach’s role in the widely-publicized post-game fight with a Cullman coach two weeks ago.
Pinson Valley (2-1, 1-1 region) hosts winless Hayden next week.