MARIETTA – Walton established the run Friday against east Cobb rival Pope on Friday and did not need to do much else at Raider Valley.
The Raiders amassed 359 rushing yards, with all five of their touchdowns coming on the ground, and Pope had a hard time stopping them before Walton took command late, en route to a 33-10 victory.
KD Stokes finished with 198 yards on 26 carries and scored three times. Julian Bumper tacked on an additional 161 yards on 14 carries and reached the end zone twice.
With Stokes and Bumper collecting yards at will, quarterback Zak Rozsman attempted just four passes the entire first half for only 19 yards. He finished with 100 passing yards for the game.
“That's what we're trying to do right now, establish the run,” Walton coach Daniel Brunner said. “We're going to be hard-headed and try to make that happen. The offensive line was phenomenal. Both running back did a phenomenal job for us.”
Walton (2-1) had a size advantage up front over Pope (1-1), with Stokes getting much of his yardage on runs through the middle. He started getting into rhythm in Walton's second drive of the game and scored his first touchdown on an 8-yard run to tie the game at 7-all.
A Will Chapman interception later in the first quarter set up another Stokes touchdown -- a 5-yard run.
After Pope cut the Walton lead to 13-10 on a 34-yard field goal by Hudson Standfest, Walton kept feeding Stokes the ball and he tacked on his third touchdown with 1 minute to play in the half.
"They are so big up front,” Pope coach Tab Griffin said. “We knew they were going to be big. That was one of my fears, that they would just line up and try to run the football, and they did a good job of it.”
When Walton opted to throw the ball more on its first drive of the second half, it led to its first and only punt attempt. Roszman did have some big throws in the second half, going deep to Pierce Spurlin for 31 yards and a 29-yard pass to Justin McConnell.
Afterwards, the Raiders reverted to the running game, only it was Bumper who was getting the bulk of the yardage. He scored early in the fourth quarter to give a little separation at 27-10. Then, a 57-yard run late in the game led to a touchdown from 12 yards out with 1:27 left to play.
Like Walton, Pope was effective in running the ball as well. An early interception by Rozsman allowed the Greyhounds to get on the board first on a Joe Stellmach 8-yard run.
Stellmach finished the game with 64 yards on 14 carries. Will Zegers added 25 yards on seven attempts, and Jasper Merriman added 20 more yards on six carries.
The difference was that Pope had to settle for a field goal in the first half after getting into the red zone, and a Kemper Hodges interception allowed Walton to take its first lead of the game.