Cleveland doesn’t waste time in rout of Walker Valley

Staff photo by Matt Hamilton / Cleveland quarterback Drew Lambert spots a receiver and fires a pass during Friday night's game at Walker Valley.

CLEVELAND, Tenn. — After a thorough beating at the hands of Farragut last week, Cleveland football coach Marty Wheeler knew his team needed something good to happen early in Friday's trip to intracounty rival Walker Valley.

It doesn't get much earlier than the opening kickoff, which Rodney Broadnax returned 83 yards for a touchdown to set the tone for the Blue Raiders, who scored 20 points in the first 15 minutes and cruised to a 34-3 win over the Mustangs.

A smile cracked across Wheeler's face when he was asked about the importance of the quick strike on special teams by Broadnax, the 6-foot-4, 200-pound senior's first score of the year.

"We've been close a few times this year to breaking one on a kickoff return. It just lined up really good for us," said Wheeler, whose Blue Raiders lost 42-13 at Farragut. "Maybe early in the year he might not have hit it right, he might have looked to bounce outside, but he saw it and hit it.

"The thing about Rod is he's gaining ground pretty quick as long as he is. It doesn't look like it, but he gains ground quickly, and once he broke it, you're not going to catch him. It set the tone for us."

(READ MORE: Final scores and photos from Friday night's Chattanooga-area high school football games)

Class 6A's Cleveland evened its record at 3-3 while dropping 5A's Walker Valley to 2-4.

Braeden Duggan and Mason Hoyle each had two sacks, spearheading a Cleveland defense that limited the Mustangs to 160 yards of total offense.

The Cleveland offense had a balanced day, with 194 yards on the ground and 185 through the air. Quarterback Drew Lambert was 9-of-15 passing with touchdowns to DJ Adams and Mycah Jordan. Lambert also had a touchdown run and rushed for 59 yards.

Isaiah Davis led the winners with 94 rushing yards and notched the game's final touchdown. Adams had 103 yards on three catches and 44 yards on returns, while Jordan had 64 yards on four catches.

"We've had a very up-and-down season, but all of our coaches have talked all year about finishing games," Lambert said. "We got off to a really good start; got a little stagnant, but we came out and we finished we did what we needed to do.

"It was a big one for us."

Walker Valley's Tucker Ownby finished with 57 yards receiving and 111 on four kickoff returns.

Contact Gene Henley at ghenley@timesfreepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @genehenley3.