“I’m not happy with the way we played in the first half,” Longhorns coach Derek Cook said. “There were a lot of things that were outside of our control, but we have to overcome those things.”
Leading only 14-0 at the half, Kell began to take control of the game in the third quarter when Jay Moxey scored on a 6-yard run.
Darian Harris, who finished the night with 103 yards and two touchdowns on only eight carries, pushed the lead to 28-0 when he broke loose for a 36-yard touchdown run, and the third quarter scoring was completed with a 44-yard run by Itabari Mason.
“Our offensive line got better in the second half,” Cook said. “I hope we grew up a little bit at halftime.”
The 21-point burst showed why the Longhorns are ranked No. 4 in Class AAAAA.
“Kell’s one of the best teams in Georgia. They showed it (Friday),” North Springs coach Steve Horton said. “And for a half, we stayed right there with them.”
The Longhorns overcame a scoreless first quarter with the game’s first touchdown as Harris ran in for a 7-0 lead early in the second.
North Springs looked to tie the game late in the second quarter. Using a spread offense featuring four wide receivers, quarterback Tyler Reid connected with Brandon Cameron on slant patterns to get the ball near midfield.
But with 33 seconds left, Reid’s pass to the middle of the field was intercepted by Kell’s Michael McCain. The sophomore linebacker returned the interception to the North Springs’ 23-yard line and with 16 seconds left Cook went to a bit of trickery.
“We’ve been doing a double pass with (wide receiver Julian) Burris and (Errol) Breaux. We’ve done that twice for touchdowns,” Cook said. “We knew they would be sitting on that, so we went the other way with it.”
McGuigan connected with Taylor Henkle in front of the Longhorns’ sideline. Henkle then threw to a wide-open Bryson Armstrong to put the Longhorns up 14-0 going into the locker room.
“It was a situation where time was running out and I felt like we needed points right before the half,” Cook said. “Fortunately it worked out.”
That score was a momentum breaker for North Springs.
“That really kind of took the steam out of our ship,” Horton said, “and put us behind.”