NEW ORLEANS – This time there would be no denying Brian Thomas, Demetri Wright and the rest of the Walker Wildcats Friday night.
Faced with their first significant adversity of the young season brought on by a two-game losing skid, Thomas scored three touchdowns via an interception return and two scoring catches, while Wright pounded out 189 yards rushing on 29 yard bruising carries that produced a pair of touchdowns to lead the charge in a 34-15 non-district road victory against Landry-Walker at Behrman Stadium.
Walker (2-2) ended its two-game hiccup while sending Landry-Walker (1-3) to its third consecutive loss due in large part to a relentless ground game that produced 225 of the Wildcats’ 264 yards and the brilliance of Thomas who scored three times on only four touches of the ball.
“It’s a big difference’’ in being 2-2 instead of 1-3, Walker coach Chad Mahaffey said. “This gets us back to .500. We’re a new staff and we’re still trying to build confidence and relationships with our kids. We’re a capable team. Now we’ve got to see if we can finish strong.’’
Thomas scored the game’s first points when he stopped a Landry-Walker scoring threat on the Charging Buccaneers’ second possession by intercepting a short pass and racing 77 yards for a touchdown and 6-0 lead.
The 6-foot-4, 190-pound junior would follow a 6-yard scoring run by Wright in the second quarter with scoring catches of 19 and 7 yards from Ethan McMasters in the second and third periods to give the Wildcats what proved to be an insurmountable 27-7 advantage with five minutes, 9 seconds remaining in the third.
“We came out and played hard,’’ said Thomas, who caught three passes good for 16 yards and the two touchdowns. “We played fast and at our tempo. We were able to keep gaining yards and executing.’’
Wright proved to be Walker’s sledgehammer in pounding away 29 times at Landry-Walker defenders. The 5-foot-10, 200-pound senior followed his 6-yard touchdown run midway through the second quarter with a slashing 21-yard score on his final carry with 1:21 remaining that coupled with Bradley Cain’s second successful PAT kick accounted for the final margin.
“It was nothing new,’’ Wright said of Wildcats impressive effort in controlling the ball via the run. “We did the same thing at practice all week and we executed.
“Our running game was much better this week because at first (this season) we couldn’t develop a running game. We weren’t getting the movement upfront. We were letting the (line)backers come up and make plays.’’
Thomas’ two scoring catches of McMasters’ passes illustrated the special skills he brings to the field.
The first covering 19 yards in the second period came on a simple hook in which he spun to the outside and up the sidelines to culminate an eight-play, 73-yard possession that gave Walker a 20-7 halftime advantage.
Thomas’ second touchdown reception came on a well-timed and delivered fade pass to the left rear portion of the end zone that capped an eight-play, 51-yard drive on Walker’s opening possession of the third period.
McMasters proved efficient in completing 7 of 13 passes good for 39 yards and the scores to Thomas while being intercepted once. Running back Keondre Brown contributed 29 yards on five carries to Walker’s offensive.
Walker’s defense, meanwhile, stymied and frustrated Landry-Walker offensively for much of the contest. The Wildcats surrendered 268 yards, but 129 of those yards came via three plays, completions covering 29, 45 and 55 yards on three separate possessions that produced no Landry-Walker points.
“It’s a road win and coming in here, it’s a hard place to win,’’ said Mahaffey “So I’m just proud of our team. We ran the ball well which we felt like we had to do. “I thought we needed to get a little pressure on them, and we were able to get a few sacks in the second half. Our defense got some pressure which helped us out.’’
Landry-Walker quarterback Justin Hudson’s passing and running accounted for 228 of the Charging Buccaneers’ 268 yards. Hudson completed 6 of 17 passes good for 165 yards and no touchdowns while being intercepted by Thomas and defensive back Aubrey Womack.
Walker plays host to Broadmoor next Friday before kicking off District 4-5A play at home against Scotlandville on Oct. 11.
“I thought the running game and the defense were key tonight,’’ said Wright. “Coach (Mahaffey) had been preaching to us in practice that we’ve got to play hard. We had to play hard and fast and execute our plays. Which we did.’’
Walker 34, Landry-Walker 15
Score By Quarters
Walker 6 14 7 7 -- 34
Landry-Walker 7 0 8 0 -- 15
WHS - Brian Thomas 77 interception return (Kick blocked).
L-W: Johnkeem Mosley 13 run (Rene Aubert kick).
WHS - Demetri Wright 6 run (Keondre Brown run).
WHS - Thomas 19 pass from Ethan McMasters (Kick failed).
WHS - Thomas 7 pass from Ethan McMasters (Bradley Cain kick).
L-W: Justin Hudson 16 run (Johnkeem Mosley run).
WHS - Wright 21 run (Bradley Cain kick).
First downs 17 11
Rushing 225 90
Passing 39 178
Passes 7-13-1 7-18-2
Punts 3-33.3 2-36.0
Fumbles/lost 0-0 5-1
Penalties 10-104 15-82