Wheeler (4-3, 1-3) led 23-10 late in the fourth quarter, but a 22-yard touchdown run by Tyren Jones, and a 24-yard pass from Price Wilson to D.J. Smith, erased Walton’s deficit.
“I’m proud of my kids,” Walton coach Rocky Hidalgo said. “We’ve been missing something with the way we’ve played the last few weeks, and I think we found it here in the fourth quarter. We really got after it and, hopefully, we can carry that over into future weeks.”
Jones rushed for 234 yards on 33 carries and scored two touchdowns to lead Walton (5-2, 3-1).
Devontae Jackson rushed for 110 yards on 21 carries and two scores for Wheeler.
It appeared that Wheeler had the game under control after Jackson’s 15-yard run with 5:38 remaining in the third quarter gave the Wildcats a 23-10 lead.
Walton, however, began to make its move on the first series of the fourth quarter as the Raiders went on a nine-play, 68-yard drive that was capped off by Jones’ 22-yard touchdown run and Anthony Price’s extra-point that cut Wheeler’s lead to 23-17 with 9:00 remaining in the game.
After Wheeler went three-and-out and was forced to punt on the next series, Walton took the ball over at its own 32-yard line and got its drive off to a strong start with a 23-yard run by Smith that took the ball to the Wheeler 45 with 7:29 left.
Walton proceeded to march down the field, concluding its drive with Wilson’s 24-yard scoring strike to Smith, and Price’s extra point put the Raiders ahead for good with 4:50 left.
“We’ve had some execution issues,” Hidalgo said. “We’ve had turnovers, and that’s what we’ve been battling all year long. We’ve had some injuries on the offensive line, and some continuity issues, but we were able to pull everything together in the fourth quarter.”
Walton took the early advantage when Jones burst up the middle for an 80-yard touchdown run to give the Raiders a 7-0 lead with 5:00 remaining in the first quarter.
Wheeler responded on the next series as Jackson scored on a 20-yard run with 1:55 left in the quarter to tie the game at 7-all.
Walton regained the lead as Price’s 44-yard field goal with 6:47 remaining in the first half put the Raiders ahead 10-7.
Wheeler advanced deep into Walton territory on its next series as a 20-yard run by Jackson and a facemask penalty by Walton moved the ball down to the Raiders’ 15. The Wildcats concluded the drive with a 26-yard field goal by Barron with 3:46 left in the half to even the score at 10-all.
The Wildcats got two more field goals from Barron in the second quarter — a 32-yarder with 1:41 left and a 42-yarder as time ran out — to give them a 16-10 halftime lead.
“(Wheeler coach Mike) Collins and his kids did a great job,” Hidalgo said. “They played really hard. They’ve got a great coaching staff. They’ve done some fantastic things at Wheeler High School.”