The victory kept third-ranked Hillgrove (7-0, 4-0 Region 4AAAAA) undefeated, while the Warriors (3-4, 2-2) lost their second straight and dropped to .500 in region play.
“Hillgrove’s a great football team, and they get after it on defense and send a lot of blitzes,” North Cobb coach Shane Queen said. “They had us in third-and-long situations when they knew we’d have to throw the football and got after our young quarterback.
“They were more physical than we were, and we had a hard time getting first downs. We played against a top-10 defense, and it showed (Friday).”
Jacarri Grisby led the defensive effort with four sacks and a fumble recovery on North Cobb’s second play of the second half. One play later, Hillgrove quarterback Elijah Ironside, who completed 15 of 24 passes for 114 yards and a touchdown, ran for a 22-yard score that pushed the Hawks’ lead to 24-6 with 10:53 left in the third quarter.
Hillgrove’s defense and special-teams play forced North Cobb to punt the ball 11 times, and the Hawks converted two turnovers — including Grisby’s recovery — into 10 points. A Warriors fumble on a punt return early in the second period, which was recovered by the Hawks’ Tolando Cleveland, led to a 33-yard field goal from Austin Trevors and a 10-0 advantage with 10:33 remaining until halftime.
Hillgrove scored the first touchdown of the contest off a 1-yard run from Drake with 3:32 left in the first quarter. North Cobb was forced to punt on its first four possessions, but it scored on the fifth — a 48-yard touchdown pass from Tyler Queen to Quinten James — to trim the deficit to 10-6 after Nakevion Leslie blocked the point-after attempt.
From that point on, it was all Hillgrove, which outscored North Cobb 21-0 the rest of the way.
The Hawks scored their second touchdown of the first half on their final drive of the second quarter. Drake ran for 40 yards out of the Wildcat formation on the first play from scrimmage to set up first-and-10 at the Warriors’ 21-yard line. Two plays later, Ironside found JoJo Marshall for a 21-yard score as the Hawks took a 17-6 halftime lead.
Drake capped the evening on Hillgrove’s second possession of the third quarter with a 52-yard touchdown run up the middle , giving the Hawks a 31-6 advantage with 5:22 remaining in the period.
Marshall had nine receptions for 78 yards and a score.
“I think it was hard for us, emotionally, to get going in the first half,” Hillgrove coach Phil Ironside said of his team’s slow start. “I told the guys, we have to create our own excitement. We can’t just wait for the big plays to happen.”
Tyler Queen completed 15 of 27 passes for 162 yards, a touchdown and an interception. James rushed eight times for 33 yards and had one reception for 48 yards and a score, while Xavier Borishade caught eight passes for 72 yards.
North Cobb converted eight first downs in the game, compared to 16 for Hillgrove.
“They’re a great football team,” Shane Queen said. “You can’t make mistakes against them and expect to win ballgames. We had too many mistakes (Friday).”