SUWANEE — Not much went right for Walton on Friday in a 35-0 loss at North Gwinnett.
The Raiders (2-2) beat the Bulldogs (3-1) by a field goal in each of the last two seasons, but the third meeting between the teams went much differently.
“We learned we have to get better,” Walton coach Daniel Brunner said. “We’re young, and we made a lot of mistakes. We couldn’t tackle. We couldn’t get anything going on offense, and against a team that talented that’s coached that well, we can’t play like that and expect to have a chance out here. We have to do a better job coaching them up and getting ready for the game.”
Any chance of a third straight win in the series for Walton went away quickly.
North Gwinnett’s Devin Crosby broke off a 50-yard run on the Bulldogs’ first possession to set up a 1-yard scoring plunge from Barrett Carter. Crosby scored himself from 64 yards on North Gwinnett’s next possession to put the Bulldogs ahead 14-0 in the first quarter.
“There aren’t many positive to take away,” Brunner said. “We had misses on both of those runs, and it cost us. You can’t miss against a guy like that, because it’s off to the races.”
Crosby finished with 158 yards and two touchdowns on 13 carries, which opened up the passing game in the second half.
North Gwinnett’s J.R. Martin completed 11-of-16 passes for 100 yards and two scores, both of which went to Josh Downs, who had 79 of his 87 receiving yards in the second half.
While they struggled to stop the run, the Raiders did defend the pass well early, as interceptions from Teagan Bierria and Will Chapman set Walton up in North Gwinnett territory twice.
The problem was the Raiders could do nothing with the ball, totalling just 80 yards of offense while going 0-for-9 on third down and 0-for-3 on fourth down, including a fake punt and fake field goal.
“Nothing was really working for us,” Brunner said. “It was one of those games where we just couldn’t get anything going.”
K.D. Stokes led Walton’s rushing attack with 24 yards on 13 carries, while Pearce Spurlin caught two passes for 45 yards.
Quarterback Zak Rozsman was 3-of-9 passing for 5 yards. He was sacked six times in the first half for minus-33 yards before being replaced after the break by Hunter Bloom, who completed 3-of-9 passes for 64 yards and an interception.
The Raiders will be back on the road next Friday for their final non-region game at Newnan.
“We’ll find out Monday what kind of team we are,” Brunner said. “It’s either going to push us closer together or pull us further apart. I hope it’s the former. Adversity can be a good thing if you treat it the right way, so I hope we do.”