North Cobb turned away two early Tift County threats and took a 21-0 lead with three first-quarter touchdowns before coasting to 35-7 victory over the Blue Devils in the first round of the Class AAAAAAA playoffs Friday.
The victory puts North Cobb (9-2), the No. 2 seed from Region 3-AAAAAAA, into the second round next week at Region 5-AAAAAAA champion Lambert, which advanced with a 44-14 victory over Central Gwinnett. Tift County finished the season 6-5.
North Cobb quarterback Will Lovett ran 14 yards for a touchdown, threw a 48-yard touchdown pass to Drew Tejchman and set up a third score with a 58-yard pass to Quannie Green during the decisive first quarter.
The Warriors controlled the rest of the night with their running game. C.J. Cole finished with 109 yards on 20 carries, Lovett had 73 yards on 12 carries, and Imad Strozier ran four times for 42 yards. Lovett also was 9-of-14 passing for 187 yards, most of which came in the first half. The Warriors rushed for 248 yards and finished with a 435-309 advantage in total offense.
“Our kids are resilient,” North Cobb coach Shane Queen said. “We talked about the fact that we started this the day we lost to Valdosta [a 21-17 first-round loss in 2015]. That left a bitter taste, and this was 365 days in the making. We didn’t win this game this week. We won this game in the offseason, in the spring, in the summer with all their hard work. The seniors did that every day. They make my job easy, and I can’t wait to get to work every day.”
Tift County moved the ball inside the North Cobb 20 on its first two possessions but came away with no points. A 68-yard run by Brenton Jones on the second play from scrimmage gave the Blue Devils a first-and-goal at the North Cobb 6. After a run for no gain and two incomplete passes, however, Tift County missed a 23-yard field goal.
On their next drive, the Blue Devils moved from their 13 to the North Cobb 19 but were stopped for a 2-yard loss on fourth-and-1.
Tift County didn’t get into North Cobb territory again until their only scoring drive, which was capped by a 2-yard touchdown run by Jones early in the fourth quarter that cut the lead to 21-7 with 9:59 to play.
North Cobb then got touchdown runs of 20 yards by Jai Erwin and 3 yards by Cole to put the game away.
Jones finished with 114 yards rushing on 16 carries. Tift County quarterback Griffin Collier, who passed for 2,500 yards during the regular season, was 13-for-30 for 115 yards.
Tift County - 0-0-0-7 - 7
North Cobb - 21-0-0-14 - 35
N - Drew Tejchman 48 pass from Will Lovett (Will Horton kick)
N - C.J. Cole 13 run (Horton kick)
N - Lovett 14 run (Horton kick)
T - Brenton Jones 2 run (Fernando Ramirez kick)
N - Jai Erwin 20 run (Horton kick)
N - Cole 3 run (Horton kick)