WALKER - Carlton Perkins came into Thursday night’s District 4-5A opener as the state’s top rusher with 1,191 yards.
The Walker High senior was seemingly a one-man wrecking crew, rushing for more than 300 yards for two straight weeks.
But Perkins was not alone in helping Walker claim a 50-15 victory over Livingston Parish rival Live Oak High.
Perkins led the way with 182 yards on 17 carries and five touchdowns in the game at WHS. The Wildcats (3-3, 1-0) won their third straight and piled up 494 yards of offense, also getting key contributions from Shaun Lowe (165 yards on 18 carries, one TD) and Tyler Lockhart (102 yards passing, one TD).
“When I came here in January, I stressed getting better every day,” first-year WHS coach Dwayne Severio said. “And I think we’ve done that. The last couple of weeks Shaun was dinged up, and this week he was healthy. So when Carlton got dinged, he stepped in.
“Our defense made some plays, too. I’m pleased with the progress we’ve made.”
Walker forced five turnovers - three interceptions and two fumble recoveries - and limited the Eagles (2-4, 0-1) to just 128 yards. Quarterback Cole Leblanc completed 7 of 14 passes for 55 yards and rushed for 40 yards to pace LOHS.
“What they do isn’t fancy,” LOHS coach David Dykes said. “When you dominate at the line of scrimmage, it looks easy. They controlled us up front. Hats off to them. They had some guys who made plays.”
There were lots of big plays in the first half as Walker raced out to a 35-15 lead. Perkins ran for 167 first-half yards and three TDs, while Lowe added 95 yards.
Live Oak took the opening kickoff and scored. Leblanc completed a 20-yard pass to Beau Forrest, setting up a 5-yard touchdown run by Garrett Thurman. Leblanc passed to Jarrett Williams for the two-point conversion, making it 8-0 with 9:10 remaining the first quarter.
Walker countered in only 18 seconds. Perkins took the first snap and rambled 70 yards around left end for a TD. Tyler Lockhart’s PAT pass to Stephen Zoll tied the game with 8:52 left.
An interception by WHS’ Jacob Thurmon set up another score. Lockhart tossed a 31-yard scoring pass to Zoll. Dreagan Bethel’s PAT kick gave Walker a 15-8 lead at the 6:25 mark.
Next, the Wildcats’ Jordan Hills recovered an Eagles fumble. Perkins scored on a 37-yard run and Bethel added the PAT kick, making it 22-8 with 3:03 to go.
Live Oak scored next. An unsportsmanlike conduct penalty against Walker helped keep the 62-yard drive alive. Leblanc’s 23-yard TD pass to Forrest and the kick by John Crutchfield made it 22-15 with 11:43 left in the half.
After that it was all Walker. Perkins scored on a 14-yard run to make it 28-15 at the 7:03 mark, but later left the game with a leg injury.
No Perkins? No problem. Lowe scored on a 63-yard
run with 24.1 seconds remaining.
“When he (Perkins) went out, I knew I had to step up,” Lowe said. “The line did a great job. I just ran through the holes they gave me.”
Walker pounded away with a 70-yard third-quarter drive that chewed up 4:44. Lockhart completed a 23-yard pass to Lowe, and Perkins scored on a 1-yard run with 4.3 seconds remaining.
The Wildcats added a fourth-quarter TD as Perkins scored on a 4-yard run and Dustin Rivere ran for the PAT to close out the scoring at the 8:39 mark.
Hills and Kody Driver also had interceptions for the winners, while Chase Boitnott recovered a fumble. Thurman and Jimmy LeBlanc added key sacks.