ROSWELL – Walton's last two losses, after having late leads in both games, were devastating enough.
It happened again Friday night, and the Raiders' 23-17 overtime loss at Roswell likely hurt even more.
Walton (2-3) had just scored a touchdown with 4:58 left in regulation as AJ Brown's 2-yard run on fourth down staked the Raiders a 17-10 lead.
Chances of winning and breaking a two-game losing streak were in Walton's favor after Conor Cummins' near-perfect punt pinned Roswell (4-0) on its own 2-yard line with 1:28 remaining.
Walton's defense, which had forced four Roswell turnovers, could not stop the Hornets when it mattered most. The Hornets managed to drive 98 yards on six plays before Marquis Willis scored from 1 yard out with 16 seconds remaining.
The drive started with a 2-yard pass before quarterback Robbie Roper hit Marquis Willis for a 38-yard pass, followed by a 48-yard strike to Willis that put Roswell on the Walton 10.
After the Hornets inched their way to the 1 with help from a Walton pass interference penalty, Willis punched it in to send the game into overtime.
Willis finished the game with 152 yards on five catches.
“To be honest, our game plan was to just get a first down and give ourselves a chance,” Roswell coach Chris Prewett said. “Marquis is a fantastic player. He makes us look really smart, and he got open, and we had a good throw and a good catch. It worked out for us.”
The miscues continued for Walton once overtime began.
The Raiders were flagged for holding and a false start on their overtime drive, which backed them to the 45. The drive ended on the next play as Roswell's Ethan Nation intercepted a pass by Walton quarterback Zak Rozsman.
Roper connected with Shaun Spence for a 14-yard gain after the Hornets were penalized for excessive celebration on the preceding interception. He threw the game-winner to Ryan Stephens on the next play.
“Execution and finishing -- that's two things we can't do right now,” Walton coach Daniel Brunner said. “We've been up the last three ballgames. We've had opportunities to close them out, and we haven't been able to do it. We've got to finish, and I take full responsibility.”
Prior to Roswell's desperation touchdown, Walton was in command of the fourth quarter.
After recovering a fumble with less than 10 minutes to play, the Raiders marched the ball down the field, highlighted by a 19-yard pass from Rozsman to Stone McKnight that put them on the Roswell 2. After failing to score on the next three plays, Walton stayed aggressive on fourth down, allowing Brown to punch it in.
The defense forced Roswell on its next drive, allowing Walton to chew a lot of clock before punting the ball deep into Roswell territory.
The Hornets were the first to get on the board Roper hit Michael Fitzgerald for a 74-yard touchdown, shaking off a couple of Walton defenders en route to the end zone.
The Raiders tied it midway through the second quarter when Braylen Stokes scored from 28 yards out. They took their first lead on a 23-yard field goal by Cummins with 2:14 to play in the half before the Hornets tied it in the third on a 30-yard try by Caden Long.