A running game that finally broke loose helped East Coweta break a season-opening three-game losing streak.
The Indians rushed for 318 yards and six touchdowns Friday and pulled away with touchdowns on three consecutive possessions in a six-minute stretch midway through the second half to beat North Cobb 42-23.
Jayland Rivers led the way for East Coweta with 137 yards rushing on 18 carries and scored touchdowns on runs of 3, 41 and 45 yards. Jayden Bolton had touchdown runs of 4 and 9 yards and finished with 82 yards on 13 carries.
“The offensive line is a strength of ours, and we haven’t felt like they’ve played to their ability,” East Coweta coach John Small said. “They had a rough week of practice, now, and they came out and responded tonight.”
East Coweta began the season with lopsided losses to Mill Creek, Carrollton and Lowndes, three teams that entered play Friday with a combined record of 10-1, and had been outscored 98-12. Facing another undefeated team in North Cobb, now 3-1, the result was far different.
“I wouldn’t call it a struggle,” Small said. “It’s a challenge we’ve put out in our program, and our kids, for the last two seasons, have just risen to the occasion in terms of their attitude and the way they’ve carried themselves. The win-loss record ain’t what we want, but I’ve seen tremendous growth in these young men, not just as football players but as young men. They’ve just stayed the course, and that was evident tonight.”
North Cobb, which had allowed just 14 total points in victories over Woodstock, Etowah and Campbell, trailed 21-14 at halftime and got within four points on a 29-yard field goal by Ben Moran with 6:30 to play in the third quarter. But East Coweta got two touchdown runs by Bolton and one by Rivers to increase the lead to 42-17 with 11:38 remaining. North Cobb cut the final margin to 42-23 on a 26-yard touchdown pass from Trevor Lovett to Montrell Jenkins on the final play of the game.
North Cobb put up some big offensive numbers, as well, finishing with 392 total yards compared to East Coweta’s 407. Cam Cunningham rushed for 164 yards on 23 carries. Lovett ran for 54 yards and passed for 155 yards and three touchdowns.
The Indians got a break early in the game when North Cobb fumbled a punt after East Coweta was forced to kick on its first possession. East Coweta recovered at the North Cobb 15 and, after a penalty, scored on the next play on Amaryion Moss’s 28-yard run.
North Cobb answered with an 80-yard drive, scoring on a 23-yard pass from Lovett to Sam Mbake to tie the game at 7-7.
Rivers gave the Indians the lead for good with touchdown runs on East Coweta’s next two possessions to make it 21-7 with 9:46 to play in the half. North Cobb closed the gap with another touchdown pass from Lovett to Mbake, this one for 47 yards with four minutes remaining in the half.
“We’re going to celebrate the mess out of it, but we’re going to go back to work,” Small said. “We’ve got a tough McEachern football team coming up in two weeks. I think they’re ranked second or third in the state, but that’s what we signed up to play and that’s what we’re going to do. Our kids know what the big picture is. This gives them a shot in the arm, a little boost, and I’m so glad they experienced this tonight.”
East Coweta - 14-7-14-7 - 42
North Cobb - 7-7-3-6 - 23
E - Amaryion Moss 28 run (Beau Beldon kick), 9:33
N - Sam Mbake 23 pass from Trevor Lovett (Ben Moran kick), 6:55
E - Jayland Rivers 3 run (Beldon kick), 1:34
E - Rivers 41 run (Beldon kick), 9:46
N - Mbake 47 pass from Lovett (Moran kick), 4:00
N - Moran 29 field goal, 6:30
E - Jayden Bolton 4 run (Dylan Lewis kick), 5:36
E - Rivers 45 run (Lewis kick), 3:32
E - Bolton 9 run (Lewis kick), 11:38
N - Montrell Jenkins 26 pass from Lovett (no point-after attempt), 0:00
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