McEachern 17, North Cobb 10

McEachern senior RB Quay Holmes (1) is brought down by North Cobb's Christian Albright (51), Michael Dixon (60) and Jai Erwin (4) in the first half of Friday's game. Daniel Varnado/Special

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McEachern senior RB Quay Holmes (1) is brought down by North Cobb's Christian Albright (51), Michael Dixon (60) and Jai Erwin (4) in the first half of Friday's game. Daniel Varnado/Special

Paris Brown rushed for 158 yards on 25 carries and scored the game-winning touchdown on a 64-yard run with 4:31 to play as fourth-ranked McEachern rallied to beat No. 9 North Cobb 17-10 in the teams’ Region 3-AAAAAAA opener Friday in Powder Springs.

Despite the teams’ 534 yards in combined total offense, it was a game controlled by the defenses. And perhaps no play was bigger than an interception by McEachern’s Kevin Sherman midway through the third quarter that finally got the Indians’ offense going.

After North Cobb took a 10-0 lead on a 31-yard field goal by Will Horton four minutes into the second half, McEachern drove to the North Cobb 41 in five plays but lost a fumble that was recovered by Christian Albright and, after a 15-yard penalty on McEachern, gave North Cobb the ball at the McEachern 40. The Warriors tried to quickly capitalize on the turnover, throwing deep over the middle on the first play, but Sherman intercepted at the McEachern 9.

The Indians (5-1, 1-0) came to life from there. They drove 91 yards in nine plays, getting their first points on a 13-yard pass from Bailey Hockman to Genuine Potts to cut the lead to 10-7. McEachern recovered a fumble on the ensuing kickoff and, after three plays, settled for a 28-yard field goal by Giovanni Dominguez to tie the score with 1:43 to play in the quarter.

North Cobb (4-2, 0-1) had two drives into McEachern territory in the fourth quarter, reaching the 35 and the 45, but turned it over on downs both times. In between, Brown broke off the game-winning run.

Part of the Indians’ success came as result of a change in strategy in the second half, going more to short passes and wide runs. The Indians had been held to 125 yards, and no points, in the first half but finished the game with 334 yards.

“They’re really athletic on defense,” McEachern coach Kyle Hockman said of North Cobb. “They’re dang good on defense. They were just getting around our guys a little too quickly, so we put our heads together and I said, ‘OK, what do we have in our playbook, even if we haven’t run it in awhile, let’s open up the whole playbook and see what works best.’ We had that one and another idea, and we didn’t even have to get to the other idea because that one was working.”

Quarterback Bailey Hockman was 11-for-23 passing for 196 yards. Despite Brown’s 158 yards rushing, the Indians finished with 138 on the ground.

Both teams struggled to move the ball in the first half. North Cobb went three-and-out on all three of its possessions in the first quarter, managing just 3 yards of offense. But the Warriors got the only points of the half after a McEachern fumble gave them the ball at the North Cobb 30. The Warriors covered 70 yards in five plays, plus a 15-yard penalty, and scored on a 15-yard pass from Will Lovett to Drew Tejchman with 8:40 to play in the half.

North Cobb was outgained 125-60 in the first half and finished the game with 200 yards of offense. Lovett was 11-for-23 passing for 121 yards, and C.J. Cole rushed for 64 yards on 15 carries.

“Our defense is awesome,” Kyle Hockman said. “Coach [Bryan] Minish has those guys playing lights out. They got some plays on us, but that’s a darn good, top 10 AAAAAAA team. We’ll take every W we can get in those situations.”

North Cobb – 0-7-3-0 – 10

McEachern – 0-0-10-7 – 17

N – Drew Tejchman 15 pass from Will Lovett (Will Horton kick)

N – Horton 31 field goal

M – Genuine Potts 13 pass from Bailey Hockman (Giovanni Dominguez kick)

M – Dominguez 28 field goal

M – Paris Brown 64 run (Dominguez kick)