The Raiders (1-2), who started the season with losses to Peachtree Ridge and Hillgrove, avoided their first 0-3 start since 1988 with the win.
“We did a lot of good things (Friday),” Walton coach Rocky Hidalgo said. “We still have a lot to work on. I’m proud of the way we played. We played with a sense of urgency. I think we played incredibly hard against a really good football team and as head football coach of the Walton Raiders, I’m really proud of my kids.”
Walton dominated North Cobb with a strong ground game as K.K. Brooks led the Raiders with 214 yards on 39 carries and three touchdowns.
“We made a decision that we were going to get back to Walton Raider football,” Hidalgo said. “That’s what we do. We line up, we run the football, we block people up front, we play great defense. We’ve put emphasis on that the last two weeks, and it showed (Friday).”
Walton set the tone on the first offensive possession of the game with a 15-play, 71-yard drive that lasted 6½ minutes and culminated in a 3-yard touchdown pass from Price Wilson to Davis Pidgeon with 5:33 remaining in the first quarter. The extra point from Christian Lucas to give the Raiders a 7-0 lead.
“That’s who we are,” Hidalgo said. “We’re a body-puncher and, probably, the first two games, we tried to be something we’re not. We wanted to play physical football and win the game 4 yards at a time.”
North Cobb (2-1) evened the score at 7-all with 9:18 remaining in the first half when Torrance McGee recovered his own fumble in the end zone after fumbling the ball at the Walton 5, following a 20-yard pass from Tyler Queen. Zach Connally kicked the extra point.
Walton used another lengthy drive to get its next score, going 12 plays for 88 yards as Brooks scored on a 4-yard run and Lucas kicked the extra point to put the Raiders back in front 14-7 with 4:15 left in the first half.
North Cobb struck with 15 seconds left in the third quarter when Queen threw a 9-yard touchdown pass to Devin Granville. But the Warriors failed to tie the score, missing the extra point, and the Raiders maintained a 14-13 lead.
Walton dealt the decisive blow to North Cobb in the fourth quarter when Hudson Splitter faked a punt on fourth-and-2 from the Warriors’ 46 and ran the ball 7 yards to give the Raiders first down with 7:29 remaining.
Brooks followed up with a 34-yard run to take the ball to the North Cobb 5 and then scored two plays later on a 1-yard scamper. Lucas’ extra point increase Walton’s advantage to 21-13 with 6:08 left.
“I figured, if our players were going to play to win, I was going to coach to win,” Hidalgo said. “We made the decision that we were going to take more chances and put the kids in position to win games.”
Brooks went on to score on a 3-yard run with 3:33 left, and Lucas’ final extra point gave the Raiders their final margin of victory.