A year after losing at Bellevue 21-0 to open their season, the Walton-Verona Bearcats dominated things this time around. They won 21-6 in front of a big home crowd as the US Marines Backyard Battle kicked off at the Walton-Verona Sports Complex.
The Bearcats’ defense dominated the contest throughout, limiting Bellevue (0-1) to just 154 total yards of offense while forcing them into three turnovers and seven turnover-on-downs.
“We said we were going to have to rely on the defense,” head coach Jeff Barth said. “We’ve got a young offense in the backfield that doesn’t have a lot of experience.”
Walton-Verona (1-0) got on the board first as junior Chris Latimore scored on a 3-yard run following a 36-yard punt return by sophomore William Latimore, his younger brother.
Despite the offense struggling early, the Tigers were able to get on the scoreboard as the first quarter was winding down when Tyler Howe recovered a blocked Walton-Verona punt in the endzone. Bellevue failed to convert a fake field goal attempt, keeping the home team in the lead 7-6.
The special teams were the one glaring weakness in the game as this miscue by the punt team would be one of several on the evening, often giving Bellevue the ball deep in Bearcats’ territory.
“We put them (the defensive unit) in horrific positions and they came up with big stops four or five times,” Barth said of his defense.
Tyler Cornelison opened up the lead for the Bearcats when he scored from 19 yards out with just under five minutes left in the half, moving Walton-Verona ahead 14-6.
The senior did suffer a knee injury on the play and did not return to the game. Barth indicated we will go further testing in the morning and seemed cautiously optimistic.
Walton-Verona did waste much time building on their lead out of the locker room as William Latimore busted out for a 65-yard touchdown run on the opening play of the third quarter to take the Bearcats’ advantage to 21-6.
Bellevue would have chances throughout the second half to dent the lead, but in every instance Walton-Verona made the stops when needed.
The Bearcats’ young offense picked up 180 of its 203 total yards on the ground, but sophomore quaterback Justin Kline managed the game well in his varsity debut.
Junior Dylen Huff led the way for the Tigers in the loss, finishing with 94 yards on 22 carries. First-year quarterback Tyler Ackerson, who was under constant pressure all night long, was held to just six yards on seven carries and was 3-of-11 for 41 yards with two interceptions.
Walton-Verona will look to ride the momentum of their season-opening win as they travel to Henry County next week while Bellevue will look to regroup for a home game against Newport.
Copyright 2012 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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