Valdosta (7-4) struck first with Nelson Herring toting the ball in from 6 yards out with 4:56 left in the first quarter, but from there it was all North Cobb.
The Warriors scored a minute later on an 11-yard run by J’Vonte Herrod, who finished the night with 88 yards on 12 carries. North Cobb never again trailed.
“What these kids have done is amazing,” said North Cobb coach Shane Queen. “I’ve said it since Day 1. I know people are tired of reading about it, but when kids believe in something, it’s a scary thing. They have believed all season long, even when we lost the two region games.”
North Cobb (9-2) recorded its second state playoff win of its 55-year history, and its first since 1959.
The Warriors will now take its playoff run on the road. North Cobb will travel to face Langston Hughes next Friday.
The Warriors lost to South Cobb and McEachern during the regular season and had lost 12 straight playoff games before beating Valdosta. Queen said he had never won a playoff game as a coach.
“I can’t even imagine this,” said Queen. “Somebody pinch me and wake me up. The defense just did an unbelievable job. Coach (Chad) McGehee and the defensive staff did an unbelievable job getting kids in the right places and the kids just executed.”
Cameron Albright, Latrell Gibbs, Keionne Rives, Romelo Lewis, and Hakeem Sawyer each had an interception, with Albright returning his 17 yards for a touchdown. Kelvin Ume, Emmanuel Slaughter and Trenton Preuett applied constant pressure to Wildcat quarterback Shelby Wilkes. Valdosta was held to just 22 rushing yards.
The offensive did its part too. With sophomore Tyler Queen leading the way, North Cobb scored on possessions lasting less than 2 minutes on four occasions. Twice it was Queen rushing the ball — first from 5-yards with a minute before the half, and then a 24-yard score that gave North Cobb it’s final 42-14 lead with 3 minutes left.
Queen also completed a pair of touchdown passes of 62 and 45 yards to Xavier Borishade.
“This is one of the best team’s I’ve ever played on,” said Tyler Queen. “I mean, Jake McKee and Xavier Borishade, these guys just let me get the ball in their hands and they do the rest. It’s not really me. It’s my offensive line, my defense giving me good field position and the guys making plays.”
Queen finished with 133 rushing yards on 22 carries and was 4-for-17 passing for 158 yards and one interception.
North Cobb led 28-7 after the first two quarters, but the Wildcats got the ball to start the second half. Wilkes completed a 21-yard pass to Taijuan Smith for a touchdown to close the gap 28-14. However, any thoughts Valdosta had of a comeback were quickly dashed when North Cobb scored just a minute later to increase its lead 35-14 before Queen tacked on the finisher in the fourth quarter.