Not that 400 rushing yards was going to get glossed over by North Hall Trojans coach Bob Christmas after Friday's 51-6 win against Dawson County to open its run in Region 7-AAA, but it was the defense that got him really excited at The Brickyard.
The fourth-ranked Trojans (4-0, 1-0 Region 7-AAA) stifled the Tigers' running game, allowing just 70 yards on the ground and played strong pass coverage when the ball went to the air.
"I thought the defense was really the spark that got us going tonight," said Christmas, who was honored by the Trojans' fan base after the game for win No. 100 at the school coming against Jefferson two weeks prior. "We really played with really good physicality."
Still, Christmas has ample respect for the rest of 7-AAA, even though the Trojans are the defending champion and a serious contender to repeat. Next, North Hall hosts East Hall (3-2, 0-2) on Friday at The Brickyard.
With the loss, Dawson County moved to 3-2 and 1-1 in region play. Cody Lamar scored the Tigers' only touchdown on a 2-yard run early in the third quarter. However, by that point the game was already secured as the Trojans scored 30 in the second quarter and lead 37-0 at halftime.
Dawson County's lone score was set up by a Zach Buchan pass on fourth-and-9 across the field to Zach Guy for 31 yards down to the Trojans' 3.
Buchan finished the game 10-for-25 passing for 103 yards.
"North Hall has a great football team," Dawson County coach Jeff Lee said. "We knew coming in we were going to have to play perfect to win and they were going to have to help us.
"And we were not perfect."
North Hall senior quarterback Andrew Smith (13 carries, 97 yards) had the biggest splash on the scoreboard with four touchdown runs, including a 30-yard scoring run to take the initial lead late in the first quarter. The Trojans were slow offensively early after going three-and-out on the first drive and stalling on the second drive after getting stopped just short on a fourth and 3 deep in Dawson County territory.
That's when Lee said that North Hall made some good adjustments.
The third time North Hall got the ball, Smith scored on the third play of the drive with a nice escape of a would-be tackler at the Tigers' 10 and sprint to the corner to outrun another Dawson County defender. Smith's other three touchdown runs in the second quarter went for 5, 10 and 1 yards.
Smith also orchestrated a two-minute drill for another score late in the second quarter, set up with a 20-yard pass to fullback Destin Bennett. Smith scored on the next play with a run from the 1.
Zac Little led North Hall with 15 carries for 199 yards.
In addition to the points on offense, North Hall also scored on a blocked punt for a safety and two points in the final minute of the opening half.
Dylan Truelove had a blocked punt for North Hall, setting it up with the ball at the 14 midway through the second quarter.
Smith scored on a run from the 10 on the second play of the drive.