Richardre Bagley ran for 141 yards and three touchdowns, and Elijah Ironside threw for three more scores as the Hawks moved into a three-way tie for first place in Region 4AAAAAA with McEachern and North Cobb.
Ironically, the first score of the game came from Hillgrove’s defense.
South Cobb opened the game’s first possession moving near midfield, but when a pass from quarterback Kylil Carter was ruled a lateral, Lamarkus Bailey scooped the fumble and ran it back 47 yards to put the Hawks ahead 7-0 just 47 seconds into the contest.
“It’s always great to get a score from your defense” said Hillgrove coach Phil Ironside. “It’s great for LaMarkus, and it’s important to create turnovers.”
Hillgrove’s offense joined the party later in the quarter when Elijah Ironside threw a screen pass to Richardre Bagley, who took the ball 22 yards to the end zone for a 14-0 lead. Bagley also led all rushers in the game with 141 yards on only nine carries.
Sonny Harris extended the Hawks’ lead to 21-0 when he dove across the goal line from 4 yards out with 5:11 left in the first quarter. Harris finished the game with 68 yards on the ground.
South Cobb’s Sam Jackson gave the home crowd reason to cheer on the ensuing play when he took the kickoff 99 yards for a score, cutting the lead to 21-7.
“Football is a judgment-call game” said South Cobb coach Michael Youngblood. “We had some judgments go against us and then suddenly we’re down 21-0. We ran a kick back to make it 21-7 but I just always tell our kids to keep fighting because life isn’t fair.”
Hillgrove added two more first quarter scores resulting in 27 points in a span of just over 6 minutes.
First, Bagley extended the lead to 27-7 on a 6 yard touchdown run that capped a 5-play, 63-yard drive. Then with 1:22 left in the quarter, Ironside tossed his second touchdown of the game, this time a 24-yard screen pass to Marcus Bowens.
Bagley added an 82-yard touchdown run in the second quarter, and Hillgrove led 41-13 at halftime.
“They were bringing pressure on us, but we were able to make some big plays” Phil Ironside said, referring to the effectiveness of screen passes in his offense.
The onslaught continued in the second half when Elijah Ironside threw his third touchdown pass of the night, a 6-yarder to Richard Hallman at the right side of the end zone.
Bailey put the other bookend on Hillgrove’s scoring for the night with his second defensive touchdown, a 75-yard interception return after he jumped in front of his assignment just before the pass was to be completed.
For Hillgrove, its regular-season finale against McEachern next week will not only be for bragging rights of Powder Springs, but for a guaranteed home game in the first round of the state playoffs.
“It’s a big game next week” Phil Ironside said. “We just have to keep going, execute, and stay healthy.”
For South Cobb, Youngblood wants to make sure that his seniors go out on a high note.
“The game against Pebblebrook next week is a big deal in this community,” he said. “We want our players to end the season on the right note, and the loser of that game has to live with it for 364 days.”