North Cobb built a 2-0 record with big plays from the defense and special teams in its victories against Cherokee and Etowah.
The Warriors, ranked No. 6 in Class AAAAAAA, got those things again on Friday against Harrison, but this time the running game showed up in a big way too and helped North Cobb to a 45-42 victory over the Class AAAAAA No. 3 Hoyas.
North Cobb rushed for 327 yards to go along with a fumble recovery for a touchdown and two scores that were set up by long kickoff returns.
“Thank God our offensive line just came to play,” North Cobb coach Shane Queen said. “We challenged those guys tonight. We told them we were going to ride them to this victory, and that’s what we did.”
Not to be outdone, the Hoyas ran for 360 yards, 205 of which came from quarterback Justin Fields, the nation’s top-rated senior prospect. Fields had 18 carries and scored on runs of 13, 1, 72 and 3 yards. He also was 7-for-14 passing for 83 yards and a touchdown.
North Cobb quarterback Dillon Waye didn’t have the same flashy numbers, but he had a great night of his own. Waye rushed for 51 yards and two touchdowns on 10 carries and threw for 62 yards, with touchdown passes of 18 yards to Richard Daggs and 15 yards to Malachi Diggs.
Waye was one of four North Cobb players with at least 51 yards rushing, led by Megarron Hart’s 150 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries. Christian Singleton had 72 yards on 11 carries, and Deandre Ferguson added 57 yards on 12 carries.
Harrison (1-2) finished with a 443-389 advantage in total offense. The Hoyas’ Dawson Brown ran for 72 yards on three carries, including a 64-yard touchdown, and Tyrese Brunson added 70 yards on five carries.
North Cobb escaped a back-and-forth first half with a 21-20 lead and took control in the first four minutes of the third quarter. On Harrison’s first offensive play of the half, Fields was hit at his 3-yard line and fumbled into the end zone, where Preston Wooten recovered for a touchdown and a 28-20 lead. On the first play following the ensuing kickoff, Fields fumbled again, this time recovered by the Warriors at the Harrison 29. Waye’s touchdown pass to Diggs seven plays later made it 35-20.
In their first two games, the Warriors got three touchdowns and a safety from the defense and one score on a punt return.
North Cobb maintained a lead of at least a touchdown the remainder of the game until Fields’ touchdown with six minutes to play made it 45-42, but the Warriors ran off the remainder of the clock, icing the game with a fourth-and-5 conversion at the Harrison 20 with about a minute left.
“That was our best defense, keeping Justin and those guys off the field,” Queen said. “They are so talented offensively. I’m just glad [Fields is] gone. I won’t have to deal with him any more, even in the playoffs since they’re in 6A. He’s the real deal, and a class-act kid too. Harrison deserved to win this game just as much as we did. Hat’s off to them.”
North Cobb took the lead on its first possession of the game when Waye scored on a 1-yard run to complete a 13-play, six-minute drive.
After the Warriors kicked off into the end zone, a hard rain began to fall. Fields provided the lightning on the next play, escaping what appeared to be a sure sack and running 61 yards down the left sideline to the North Cobb 13. He took the next play for a touchdown, but a low snap on the extra-point attempt preserved the Warriors’ lead at 7-6.
The teams exchanged quick touchdown drives midway through the second quarter, with each team scoring twice in a span of about four minutes. Harrison’s came on a 1-yard run by Fields and a 64-yard run by Brown. North Cobb got touchdowns from Hart (7-yard run) and Daggs (18-yard pass from Waye) on drives that were set up by long kickoff returns from Ferguson (55 yards) and Devin Saunders-Johnson (71 yards).
Both teams had one more scoring opportunity before the end of the half, but North Cobb fumbled at the Harrison 29-yard line, and the Hoyas missed a 33-yard field goal with 37 seconds to play in the quarter.
“It’s just a total team effort,” Queen said. “I just tell these guys that you’re going to have to make plays on special teams some nights, and you’re going to have to make plays on defense some nights. Tonight our offense came to play. I don’t know how many yards we had, but gosh we racked up some offense. It was just a great job, and I’m so proud of our coaching staff.”
Harrison - 6-14-14-8 - 42
North Cobb - 7-14-21-3 - 45
NC - Dillon Waye 1 run (Anthony Rodriguez kick)
H - Justin Fields 13 run (kick failed)
H - Fields 1 run (Alex Raynor kick)
NC - Megarron Hart 7 run (Rodriguez kick)
H - Dawson Brown 64 run (Raynor kick)
NC - Richard Daggs 18 pass from Waye (Rodriguez kick)
NC - Preston Wooten recovers fumble in end zone (Rodriguez kick)
NC - Malachi Diggs 15 pass from Waye (Rodriguez kick)
H - Fields 72 run (Fields run)
NC - Waye 11 run (Rodriguez kick)
H - Steven Peterson 25 pass from Fields (kick blocked)
NC - Rodriguez 34 field goal
H - Fields 3 run (Brown pass from Fields)