The Eagles kept the Raiders out of the end zone and held the Raiders to just 52 rushing yards while using Devonte Wheaton's legs to do the bulk of the scoring en route to a 19-3 victory Friday at Raider Valley.
Etowah's defense made four turnovers by the offense completely irrelevant. Walton (2-3, 0-1) cashed in on just one of them when Nathan Dittmer kicked a 19-yard field goal late in the second half.
Etowah (4-1, 1-0) was sharp on run defense. With the exception of a 28-yard run early in the fourth quarter, the Eagles never allowed Walton running back Kyle Vorster more than four yards a carry. Vorster had 23 touches for 71 yards while the rest of the backfield was limited to negative-19.
"We didn't block anybody and we didn't make any plays," Walton coach Rocky Hidalgo said. "(Etowah) kicked our butt up front and they kicked our butt down the field. They beat us in every aspect of the football field (Friday). Their players played with great effort and their coaches had a better game plan."
The Eagles also forced two turnovers in the second half to stay in front. Jason Holdway recovered a fumble on the snap and Christian Harris picked off a Bradley Kilborn pass late in the fourth to halt a Walton comeback.
"Getting the first region win is big," Etowah coach Bill Stewart said. "From there, you're not in the driver's seat but working yourself to where you can get in the dance. So I felt like we played real physical and told the guys that was one of best defensive games that I've seen."
While Etowah's defense was giving Walton fits, Wheaton came to life in the second half, and it was his efforts that helped Etowah break open a 7-3 lead at the break.
Wheaton finished with 157 yards on 15 carries and scored two touchdowns in the second half. His first came on a 77-yard touchdown run where he swept to the right side of the field and cut back inside to avoid Walton defenders.
After Etowah missed its extra point attempt, the Eagles took advantage of Holdway's fumble recovery by pinning Walton deep in its own territory. Four plays later, Etowah got the ball back on the Walton 47-yard line, and Wheaton scored again on an 18-yard run.
Walton had a chance to rally against the Etowah defense when the Raiders orchestrated a 14-play drive that started on the Walton 31. But the Eagles stood firm by holding Walton inside the red zone.
Holdway deflected a Kilborn pass attempt on third and goal from the Etowah 10 and a short Kilborn pass to Tripp Roberts on fourth down was stopped at the 1.
Walton had 28 yards to work with on its next drive after pinning Etowah to its own 1. On the second play, Kilborn found Zack Blaylock for a 13-yard touchdown but was called back for holding. The Raiders turned the ball on the enxt play when Kilborn threw an interception to Harris.
"It's my fault as the head coach. I'm going to tell you right now," Hidalgo said. "I obviously did a poor job getting us ready to play the game. (Etowah) deserved to win. Kudos over there to Coach Stewart."
Even though Etowah fumbled on its next drive, Walton failed to take advantage, and the Eagles held on to win.