CANTON -- Cherokee’s defense stood strong and the offense put together two second half touchdown drives, carrying the Warriors to a 24-7 victory over North Hall on Friday.
For the second straight game, the Warriors kept the opposing offense off of the scoreboard. The defense proved up to the task of stopping the North Hall's Wing-T attack, limiting the Trojans to 88 rushing yards on 35 attempts, and 117 yards total.
Cherokee improved to 3-0, its best start since winning the first six games of the 2007 season.
The game started out smooth enough for Cherokee as its defense forced a three-and-out on the game’s first possession, and the offense moved the ball down to North Hall 17-yard line.
The Trojans' defense held, though, and forced Cherokee into a 34-yard field goal attempt. The attempt was blocked at the line, and Luke Gunter picked the loose ball up and outran both teams, giving North Hall a 7-0 lead.
Midway through the second quarter, it was the Warriors' turn to capitalize on a mistake when North Hall fumbled an exchange.
Linebacker Nate Muse picked up the ball and rumbled down to the Trojans’ 2-yard line. Keith Adams Jr. punched in the ball on the following play, pulling the Warriors even.
“Our mantra this year is the three Ts -- together, toughness and turnovers -- and our defense is demonstrating that every week,” Cherokee coach Josh Shaw said. “Shutouts have been hard to come by the last few years. They're just fun to watch. They’re real physical, they’ve got a purpose and their football IQ is incredible.”
Cherokee received steady play from quarterback AJ Swann. The sophomore finished with 19-for-31 with 238 yards, including a 43-yard scoring toss to Landon Ergle midway through the third quarter to push the Warriors' advantage to 10 points.
Cherokee was paced on the ground by Adams, who finished with 69 yards and two touchdowns. The sophomore’s 12 second-half carries let the Warriors stay balanced on offense while burning up the clock in the second half.
Cherokee's offense struggled to sustain drives in the first half, but it managed a 12-play, 66-yard drive late in the second quarter which was capped by a 20-yard field goal by Luis Mijangos, giving the Warriors a 10-7 advantage at halftime.
“We had some self-inflicted wounds that stalled out some drives, but our receivers rebounded awesome in the second half ” Shaw said. “We’ve got eight new starters on offense, five are sophomores. They get better week to week. They’re all playing because they’re really good and special. They continue to get better, and we continue to grow as an offense.”
The Warriors travel to Kennesaw Mountain next week.