CHATSWORTH, Ga. — Calhoun football coach Hal Lamb reminded his team after Friday night's 34-10 win at North Murray that it has a long way to go to reach its championship potential.
For a half, though, the Yellow Jackets looked very much like a threat to repeat as GHSA Class AAA champions.
Down 10-0 at halftime to an opponent seeking to end its visitors' nearly 17-year-old streak of region wins, the Jackets lit the fuse on a furious rally.
Calhoun quarterback Gavin Gray threw for 211 of his 270 yards in the second half, including a pair of touchdown passes to Luke Moseley. Calhoun (4-0, 2-0 Region 6-AAA) scored 27 points in the third quarter in less than seven minutes of playing time to turn around the would-be shocker.
"We had to challenge them," Lamb said. "Nothing was going our way in the first half. We had dropped balls and our execution was just bad. They were mixing up defenses on us, which was causing some problems. Gavin settled in, and we made some plays for him and Zack started getting more running room.
"We've got to play like champions, and in the second half we did. What a great win. Our kids just found a way in the second half, but we've got a lot of things to clean up to get where we want to go."
The Mountaineers (2-2, 1-1), despite giving up a pair of long drives, kept Calhoun off the scoreboard with an aggressive defensive game plan. North Murray running back D'Ante Tidwell helped set up an early Owen Hannah field goal, then broke off a 57-yard touchdown run late in the first quarter for the 10-0 lead.
It was the first time the Yellow Jackets had trailed since being down 14-7 in a season-opening 45-21 win over Ridgeland.
Calhoun's comeback coincided with Gray and the passing game clicking deep. He hit Brannon Spector for a 47-yard gain to start the team's second drive of the third quarter, which ended two plays later with a Zack Fuller 8-yard run.
Lamb called for a squib kickoff, which caught the Mountaineers napping, with Calhoun's Greg Carr recovering at the 31. Four plays later, Gray connected with Collin Baggett for a 19-yard touchdown pass, though the PAT was missed.
North Murray was forced to punt, and the Jackets dialed up another streak pattern for Moseley on the first play. Gray dropped the ball in perfectly 40 yards downfield, and the speedy senior raced the other 40 untouched for a stunning 20-10 lead.
"We knew based on last year's game that we would have opportunities to beat them deep," Moseley said. "We just had to keep wearing them down, and eventually it was going to open up."
Moments later, a Tidwell fumble forced by Davis Allen put Calhoun at the 28, and the Jackets cashed in on Fuller's 1-yard run with a minute to play in the third quarter.
Moseley, who had 125 yards on six catches, capped the scoring with a 22-yard touchdown pass from Gray, who was 10-of-14 passing in the second half. Fuller added 82 rushing yards, while North Murray's Tidwell had 140 on 28 tough carries.
Contact Lindsey Young at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6296. Follow him on Twitter @youngsports22.