It was a back-and-forth game that featured 1,056 yards worth offense and would be any defensive coordinator's worst nightmare.
But North Hall, thanks to 189 rushing yards and four touchdowns from Imani Cross, was able to escape Chestatee with a 55-38 road win on Friday in 8A-AAA play.
The Trojans moved to 3-2 overall and 1-0 in league play while the War Eagles dropped to 2-3 and 0-1.
For Cross, a junior transfer from Flowery Branch, it was his first game back full strength after rehabbing a torn Achilles for 4½ months. He returned last week against Walnut Grove, but saw limited action.
"I just thank God because, usually with an Achilles' (tendon) tear you don't come back this soon," said Cross, adding that he's now at 100 percent.
"The Lord has blessed me and healed me and I'm out here having fun and playing for the Lord."
The War Eagles jumped to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter, and a Leo Molina field goal gave them a 17-7 lead early in the second quarter after Cross' first touchdown on a 59-yard run.
Cross responded with runs of 1 and 42 yards to give the Trojans a 19-17 lead it would never relinquish heading into halftime.
Both teams scored two touchdowns in the third quarter, and the back-and-forth scoring trend continued in the fourth, when each scored another touchdown.
Chestatee's score, which came on quarterback Scott Chewning's second touchdown pass to Alex Moore, brought the score to 40-38 with 5:24 remaining. Their first touchdown went for 62 yards in the first quarter.
North Hall's Randy Olson responded three plays later with a 68-yard run to make the score 47-38 with 3:51 remaining.
That's when Trojans coach Bob Christmas took a gamble in hopes of changing the game's pace, calling for an onside kick.
With the Trojans kicking off from the Chestatee 45 after a Chestatee 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty — one of four issued to the War Eagles in the fourth quarter — North Hall recovered on the War Eagles' 27.
"Even if we don't get the ball, they get it around their 35-yard line," Christmas said. "We saw on previous kickoffs their front line was just bailing out of there, so we felt like it would be there. And I just wanted to keep the ball in the hands of the offense and not put our defense back on the field."
The Trojans' first play of the possession was an incomplete pass, but Chestatee was flaged for roughing the passer — one of two fourth-quarter personal foul penalties on the War Eagles — putting the Trojans on the Chestatee 12.
Shane Doster ran in for the score on the next play, then avenged two previous missed extra point attempts by running in a 2-point conversion to bring the score to its final margin.
Chewning, who completed nine of his 13 passes for 186 yards and rushed for another 118 on 22 carries, said his team has nothing to be ashamed of.
"Our team played their butts off and never quit and I was proud of them," Chewning said. "At the end they just got more breaks than we did."
War Eagles coach Stan Luttrell wouldn't discuss the 60 yards of unsportsmanlike conduct penalties, other than to say he wasn't sure why they were called and that no one player was issued two. Georgia High School Association rules state any player or coach issued two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties in the same game must sit out the next game.
A total of 90 yards in penalties were issued against Chestatee in the fourth quarter alone.
"I would take away that this game is going to make our team closer," said Luttrell, "and I think we can definitely build on it."