SUWANEE — Friday night’s rematch between Walton and North Gwinnett, the No. 4 team in Class AAAAAAA, set a record as the Raiders equaled their worst loss in program history, 60-10 in the second round of the state playoffs.
The 50-point loss matched Walton’s 63-13 loss to Harrison in the opening round of the 2001 playoffs.
“I’m just hurting for my boys,” Walton coach Daniel Brunner said. “They played their tails off all season and I’m just hurting for my boys right now.”
The Raiders (6-6) never were given a chance to get settled as North Gwinnett took the opening drive 80 yards for an initial score on a 3-yard pass from Jr Martin to Cooper Salo.
Walton tried to answer, but just four plays later quarterback Zak Rozsman’s pass was intercepted and the Bulldogs’ Jarvis Cunningham ran untouched for another early touchdown, still early in the first quarter.
Rozsman, who finished 10-of-28 for 160 yards and a touchdown, attempted to keep the Raiders in the game by connecting with Kenny Djaha on a wheel route from the backfield. The junior tailback gained 41 yards to get Walton into a goal-to-go situation, however North Gwinnett’s defense would hold and force a 23-yard field goal.
The Bulldogs’ defense would force a 3-and-out the next time Walton had the ball, and it set up Martin to find Bobby Ezzard for a 20-yard gain before Devin Crosby broke free from 28 yards away for another score.
The junior tailback finished with 94 yards rushing and two touchdowns. Martin rushed for 65 yards, including a 14-yard scoring run late in the second quarter, and threw a 69-yard pass Blake Young right before halftime to make the score 46-3.
North Gwinnett would add two touchdowns in the second half. Walton finally found the end zone in the final moments of the fourth quarter when Rozsman connected with Teagan Bierria for a 5-yard touchdown pass.
“Tough loss,” Brunner said. “Never want to go out like that, (but) I’m proud of these kids for reaching the Sweet 16 for the third year in a row. We just have to get over this hump somehow.”
Crosby had three catches for 63 yards and Drew Pritts also had three catches for 21 yards.