Walker had not faced a deficit — or the hint of a threat — during its four straight blowouts to start the nondistrict season.
Then came Friday night’s visit by unbeaten Assumption and four lead changes through two quarters.
The Wildcats responded as well as anyone in the home crowd could have hoped, using a big third quarter to create some distance and dominating the Mustangs during the second half of a 38-14 victory.
The latest win completes Walker’s sweep of nondistrict action and sends the Wildcats (5-0) into District 4-5A play looking very little like the team that finished 0-10 last season.
“It’s something we talked about all year was, what’s going to happen when they got into a dogfight?” first-year Walker coach Brandon Lawley said.
Walker whipped its first four opponents by a 232-23 margin, creating the unlikely Week 5 matchup of unbeatens against a 4A Assumption team that went 3-7 last year.
Though the Wildcats again won by a comfortable margin, they trailed twice before taking a shaky 18-14 lead into halftime.
An aerial attack led by senior quarterback Terry Bozeman and sophomore wide receiver Darius Hampton heated up in the second half, and the Walker defense put the clamps on Assumption’s veer-option offense.
Bozeman, the state’s passing leader, finished 10-of-25 for 225 yards with five touchdowns.
During four possessions beginning late in the second quarter, Bozeman connected on eight of nine attempts as the Wildcats scored on all four possessions to turn a 14-12 deficit into a 38-14 lead.
Hampton had five catches for 191 yards and four touchdowns to lead all receivers.
But the game’s key play came when Bozeman looked the way of junior receiver Terrell Warner with the Wildcats facing third-and-long from their 21 with 42 seconds left in the first half.
Warner rose above a defender to pluck the pass around the Assumption 40-yard line, then weaved the rest of the way for a 79-yard score.
Walker never looked back.
“The kid’s as good as advertised,”Asssumption coach Tony Paine said of Bozeman. “He threw it up, and (the receivers) did a good job of running up underneath it.”
Assumption (4-1) got hit by an early haymaker when Walker running back Tristan Taylor found a wide-open Hampton on a double-pass 21 seconds in, marking the second straight week Walker scored on the first play from scrimmage.
The Mustangs responded.
Ernest Adams delivered Walker’s first deficit of the season when he scored on a 52-yard run later in the first quarter, and quarterback Daron Williams gave the Mustangs the lead again in the second when he scrambled to find Richard Zyshawn for a 20-yard TD pass on fourth-and-nine.
Williams finished with 152 yards on 19 carries but was mostly held in check after halftime.
Now the Wildcats, who haven’t won a district game since 2011, turn their focus to continuing their turnaround where it matters most.
“It’s a whole different season,” Lawley said. “There’s no gimmes. That feeling they felt there in the second quarter, they’re going to feel that a lot here in the next five weeks.”