WOODSTOCK — K.D. Stokes scored three touchdowns, Zak Rozsman made pinpoint throws and Walton pulled away for a 34-20 Friday at Etowah.
The Raiders (4-3, 2-0 Region 4AAAAAAA) scored 24 unanswered points after seemingly losing their momentum in the second quarter, but they recovered and boasted their offensive firepower while the Eagles sputtered out.
Rozsman completed 16 of 25 passes for 254 yards, but none more clutch than an 11-yard strike on fourth-and-11, after the Raiders had forced Etowah into a turnover-on-downs moments earlier in the third.
A perfect throw to Justin McConnell set up Stokes’ third touchdown run -- a 12-yard scamper -- to give Walton a 31-13 lead. An interception by linebacker Stayton Brown doomed the Eagles' next drive as well.
Etowah (4-4, 2-1) did score a touchdown when Dalton Miller found Brock Rechsteiner for a 32-yard touchdown with 2 minutes remaining, but the game was called by coaches following an Etowah player's injury with less than 2 minutes remaining.
After the players had emerged from a pile-up near midfield, Etowah defensive lineman Jaden Field was seen face-down on the field and his helmet off. Field could be seen moving his hands, but he remained motionless for precautionary reasons as he was stabilized by medical personnel and transported to a hospital by ambulance.
It was a sobering end to the game, though Etowah coach Dave Svehla said it was “the right thing to do.”
Stokes was the highlight for Walton early on, carrying three times for 53 yards on the first three plays, including a 27-yard score. But after Etowah figured out its lanes in the run game, Walton adjusted to the air and McConnell filled the stat sheet with six receptions for 121 yards.
“He’s a senior and he’s one of the guys we want to see step up in big moments,” Walton coach Daniel Brunner said.
Rozsman, just a sophomore, showed why he is a force to be reckoned with. Not only was he efficient on caught balls, but also on a few big chunks that were dropped and diluted his numbers.
“Yeah, we had a few dropped, so he could have had an even bigger game,” Brunner said, “but he’s one of the best kids and smartest kids I’ve been around, and it shows.”
Etowah looked at times to be Walton’s match. Miller was 19-of-29 in the air for 281 yards, and he had a 45-yard scoring strike to Brayden O’Neill that gave the Eagles a 13-10 lead in the second quarter. Miller also had passes of 47 and 37 yards, and just missed Rechsteiner on a wide-open post that would have kept the pace.
“We had too many negative plays,” Svehla said. “We would move forward, but then we’d go back a few here or there, and you can’t do that against them. I think Walton game-planned really well.”
Etowah tailback Klivert Many made it 10-7 when he scored from 7 yards out at the end of the first quarter. Walton took a 24-13 lead when Rozsman found towering receiver Pearce Spurlin on a 5-yard fade route to end the first half.
In the end, Walton outgained Etowah 446-343 and outrushed the Eagles 192-62. The Raiders remained in control of their own destiny in the region after ending the non-region portion of their schedule with a 2-3 record.
“Those earlier games in the year were more lessons than losses,” Brunner said. “I’m so proud of this team and how they came together and played for each other tonight.”