The ninth-ranked Wolverines came from behind to defeat archrival Whitefield Academy 21-14 in a battle between Region 6A (B) co-leaders Friday at Robertson Field.
Trailing 14-6 at halftime, Walker (8-0, 5-0) scored two fourth-quarter touchdowns — including Evan Kasian’s game-winner with 38 seconds left — to bounce back for the win that gives the Wolverines sole possession of first place in the subregion.
It was a big win for Walker and its first-year coach, John East, who was going up against the school where he served as athletic director for several years.
“Our whole thing this year is to win the next game,” said East, who helped hire Whitefield coach Jimmy Fields in 2007 and had two sons play for Fields. “We’ve done it eight times in a row, and I don’t care if it’s one point or seven points or 30 points — let’s get that win and get on to the next week. This was a great game, and Whitefield did a great job.”
“We had to come through in the end, and we needed that. We haven’t had many tight situations, so hats off to [Whitefield],” he said. “They did a great job.”
Walker got yet another big game from Evan Kasian, who rushed for 271 yards on 33 carries and two touchdowns. He also threw for another score.
Kasian began Walker’s comeback as he threw a 21-yard touchdown pass to Gavin Crouch on the first play of the fourth quarter. He then ran the ball in for a 2-point conversion, which tied the score at 14-all with 11:52 remaining in the game.
Walker’s final scoring drive began after Whitefield was forced to punt and the Wolverines took the punt return down to the Wolfpack 46-yard line with 2:25 left in the game.
It was Kasian who put the finishing touches to the seven-play, 54-yard drive with his 12-yard run with 38 seconds left. Mitch Van Den Eynde kicked the extra point to provide the winning margin for Walker.
“The coaches did a great job at halftime,” East said. “We came back with a good, solid game plan in the second half.”
Whitefield didn’t give up without a fight, however, Max Rieves ran the ensuing kickoff 34 yards to take the ball to the Walker 46 with 29 seconds left.
Everett Pollard threw a 10-yard pass to Richard Sherrell to move Whitefield to the Walker 24 with 23 seconds left, but Mitchell Boylan intercepted a pass from Pollard on the next play to seal the win for Walker.
“Even after [Walker] got the lead late, you could see us take the kickoff and make a couple of plays in their territory, though we didn’t execute at the end,” Fields said. “To be honest, it’s one of those things, as a coach, that you didn’t so much lose as you ran out of time. I feel like, if there was another 5 minutes, we could have hung on and won the football game, and that’s credit to the kind of kids we have at Whitefield.”
Walker got on the scoreboard on its first offensive series as Kasian ran 31 yards to move the ball to the Whitefield 25, setting up his 20-yard touchdown run with 7:00 remaining in the first quarter. The score remained 6-0 after Van Den Eynde missed the extra point.
Whitefield took the lead at the end of the first quarter as Pollard threw a 28-yard touchdown pass to Braelen Phillips and Max Kemether booted the extra point with 6 seconds left to put the Wolfpack in front 7-6.
The Wolfpack increase their lead to 14-6 as Richard Sherrell scored on an 11-yard run and Kemether made his kick with 4:51 remaining in the first half.