Cole Manning’s 13-yard touchdown run in the third quarter was the only score in the second half, but it was enough to lift the Walnut Ridge Bobcats to a 28-22 season-opening victory over the Highland Rebels Friday night at Sexton Field.
Walnut Ridge got on the scoreboard first on Manning’s one-yard run in the first quarter. Manning then ran for the two-point conversion to give the Bobcats an 8-0 lead with 7:19 to play in the period.
Highland quarterback Wyatt Goodman raced 55 yards for a touchdown on the Rebels’ ensuing possession. Aaron Seymore ran for the conversion to knot the score at 8-8 at the 5:58 mark.
A Bobcat turnover set up Highland’s next score. Brayden Figgins’ one-yard run gave the Rebels a 14-8 advantage with 4:40 to play in the quarter.
Walnut Ridge answered when Manning passed 46 yards to Kel Slusser to pull the Bobcats into a 14-14 tie.
The Bobcats regained the lead on Manning’s 29-yard run later in the second quarter. Mari Thomas was on the receiving end of the two-point conversion, as Walnut Ridge moved ahead 22-14 with 3:13 to play in the half.
Highland responded with Goodman’s two-yard run with 1:14 remaining in the half. The two-point conversion tied the game 22-22 at the intermission.
Manning, the Bobcats’ senior quarterback, finished with 245 yards rushing and three touchdowns. He completed 15-of-29 passes for 183 yards and a touchdown.
Also for Walnut Ridge, Kai Watson and Blane Wade each had two carries for 10 yards, and Walker Ward had one carry for three yards.
Mason Andrews led the Cats in receiving, with eight receptions for 75 yards. Thomas finished with three catches for 31 yards. Slusser had two catches for 46 yards and a touchdown, and Wade had two receptions for 31 yards.
Next up for the Bobcats is road game against the Salem Greyhounds on Friday night. Game time is 7 p.m.