The Warriors made sure of that, one week after their overtime loss to South Cobb.
Most of the mistakes North Cobb made in its previous game were corrected, and the Warriors came up with solid game plans on both sides of the ball en route to a 41-14 victory over Hillgrove in a Region 4AAAAAA game at Emory Sewell Stadium.
After giving up two turnovers last week, the Warriors (5-1, 4-1) didn’t turn the ball over against the Hawks (3-3, 2-2), and they were penalized just four times for 40 yards, instead of their previous tally of nine times for 75.
“I told our kids we didn’t play very well last week,” North Cobb coach Shane Queen said. “We couldn’t let South Cobb beat us twice — meaning that we couldn’t let it carry over into this week — and that was answered very quickly.”
North Cobb’s defense shut down Hillgrove for the first three quarters, while quarterback Tyler Queen brought the offense to life with 132 rushing yards and two touchdowns.
No doubt, North Cobb had one of its better games of the season against a prolific Hillgrove offense.
The Warriors’ secondary gave Hillgrove quarterback Troy Thompson fits for most of the first half by swarming his receivers. Meanwhile, defensive lineman Eghosa Agbonghae and linebacker Jali Kuku led the front seven in applying constant pressure to the Hawks’ backfield.
Thompson, who was fifth in Cobb County with 909 passing yards coming into Friday’s game, was only 5-of-16 for 77 yards against North Cobb. He misfired on six straight pass attempts at one point, many of which were broken up by the Warriors’ secondary.
A defensive play by North Cobb early in the fourth quarter put the game out of reach. Hakeem Sawyer sacked Thompson on a fourth-down play from the Hillgrove 44, Thompson lost the ball as he went down to the turf, and Trenton Pruett was there to scoop it up for a touchdown to give the Warriors a 34-0 lead.
“We broke on balls (Friday),” Shane Queen said of his defense. We were there and made the plays.”
The Warriors didn’t have to rely on their dynamic receiving duo of Xavier Borishade and Nick Miller. They combined for two catches and just 15 yards, but they each had rushing touchdowns.
If the opening drive was any indication, the Warriors planned on gaining most of their yards on the ground. Tyler Queen had runs of 24 and 36 yards on the first drive before J’Vonte Herrod finished it off with a 1-yard run that put North Cobb on the board.
A costly pass-interference penalty against Hillgrove’ defense helped set up North Cobb’s second touchdown, on a 1-yard quarterback sneak by Queen, and Borishade sprinted 13 yards for a score following a blocked punt to put North Cobb ahead 21-0 at the break.
North Cobb chewed 7 minutes off the clock in its first drive of the second half before Queen found the end zone from 10 yards out. And Queen’s 16-yard run midway through the fourth quarter set up North Cobb’s final touchdown, a 22-yard run by Miller.
Hillgrove avoided the shutout early in the fourth quarter, on a 73-yard touchdown pass from Elijah Ironside to Evan Engram. Evan Arnold scored a late touchdown late on a 1-yard plunge.
“It’s always a work in progress,” Hillgrove coach Phil Ironside said of the loss. “We’ll have to come to practice Monday and work, and just get better for the next one.”