The Indians scored on their first four possessions of the second half, and their defense kept the Eagles off the scoreboard over the final 5 minutes, en route to a 42-28 victory Friday at Clay Stadium.
In a battle of the only Region 4AAAAAA unbeatens, McEachern (5-2, 5-0) churned out 500 rushing yards — with touchdown runs of 21, 60, 35, 41, 21 and 15 yards — to send ninth-ranked South Cobb (5-1, 3-1) to its first loss of the season.
Ty Griffin carried the ball 21 times for 238 yards and scored four times for the Indians, while Ty Clemons had seven carries for 87 yards and two touchdowns. Taj Griffin rushed 10 times for 97 yards, and Mike Sherman totaled nine carries for 90 yards.
Whether it was up the middle or around the edges, once a McEachern rusher got past the line of scrimmage, there was a threat for him to score.
“They’re fast,” McEachern coach Kyle Hockman said. “(The Griffins and Clemons) — those guys can run. We’re really blessed to have that kind of talent.
“Our offensive line is a bunch of men. They played well and did a great job pushing the line of scrimmage and creating lanes. If the lane wasn’t there, our guys were able to bounce outside and get around the edge for some yardage. We obviously have some very talented guys behind our linemen that make them look even better.”
Both teams played poorly over the first 14½ minutes of the game.
McEachern committed four penalties for 36 yards and turned the ball over twice on an interception by South Cobb’s Jordan Harton and a fumble recovery by Justin Jones.
South Cobb also had its share of problems, with four penalties for 30 yards and a pass picked off by McEachern’s Kell Parham.
Parham’s pick set up McEachern at the South Cobb 43-yard line, and the Indians capitalized six plays later with Ty Griffin’s 21-yard touchdown run. The point-after attempt fell short, however, leaving McEachern with a 6-0 lead.
On the first play of the Indians’ next possession, Clemons outran the defense for a 60-yard score on the first play for a 14-0 second-quarter lead.
South Cobb marched 80 yards on its ensuing possession and used a little trickery for a score to get back into the game. Facing third-and-6 from the Indians’ 12, Stephon Masha threw an incomplete pass, but the Eagles were called for holding on the play.
McEachern elected to accept the penalty, setting up the Eagles for third-and-22. South Cobb coach Ed Koester dialed up a flea-flicker on the next play as Chauncey Ingram completed a 27-yard pass to Jeremiah Alphabet. One play later, Masha ran in for a 1-yard score to trim the deficit to 13-7 with 1:02 left in the second.
South Cobb took its only lead at the start of the second half.
Masha found Ingram for a 19-yard pass, and Ingram scampered for a 32-yard run. Ryan Sumner capped the drive with a 2-yard touchdown run for a 14-13 Eagle lead with 8:52 remaining in the third.
However, McEachern’s running game, which had already proved potent in the first half, was even more lethal in the second. Ty Griffin scored on runs of 35, 41 and 21 yards on consecutive drives, giving the Indians a 35-14 margin.
Masha, who was
14-for-29 for 161 yards, capped a five-play drive with a 37-yard touchdown to Chris Simon to pull the Eagles to within 35-21. But McEachern answered with a six-play, 60-yard drive that ended with Ty Clemons’ 15-yard touchdown run and dive into the end zone for a 42-21 lead with 7:32 left in the game.
A 15-yard McEachern personal foul at the end of a 10-yard pickup helped lead to Kylil Carter rushing in for a 6-yard touchdown that left South Cobb trailing 42-28 with 5:06 remaining.
The Eagles’ final possession started with 2:27 left, but McEachern held on and prevented another South Cobb comeback.
“This was a huge game,” Hockman said. “We knew that (South Cobb) had won a couple of close games, so we were prepared for a battle. I liked the way we came out in the second half and built a big lead and held it.”
Masha rushed 17 times for 73 yards, and Ingram had nine carries for 64 yards. Alphabet totaled five catches for 67 yards, and Carter had four receptions for 49 yards.