Norcross-In a battle between the top two high school football teams in the state, the North Gwinnett Bulldogs (3-0, 1-0) overcame a 14-0 deficit to defeat the Norcross Blue Devils (1-2, 0-1) on Friday night in the Region 7-AAAAAA opener for both clubs in GHSA Week 4 action. Defending Class AAAAAA state champion Norcross entered the contest ranked No. 2 in the state, while North Gwinnett came in as the top ranked team.
The Blue Devils jumped to a 14-0 lead after a rushing touchdown by running back Josh Boyd, and a score through the air when receiver Chris Herndon pulled in an A.J. Bush pass, but then the Bulldogs outscored Norcross 36-3 the rest of the way.
North Gwinnett QB Hayden Sphire was 19 of 30 passing for 256 yards and four touchdowns, all to Nate Brown. Brown and the Bulldogs capitalized on both a height and experience advantage over the Blue Devil cornerbacks which led to Brown totaling 10 catches for 172 yards and the four scores. The fifth score came off a reverse pass from Almonzo Brown to Caleb Scott.
Boyd led all rushers with 87 yards on 20 carries, while Bush was 13 of 24 with 156 yards with a TD and an interception through the air. Herndon led the Devils in receiving with five receptions for 85 yards and the touchdown.
The Bulldogs have now opened the season with impressive wins over Camden County, Grayson and Norcross, three of Georgia’s last four state champions, and the victory gives North Gwinnett the early advantage in the battle for the Region title. Norcross will have to rebound from two tough losses in their first three games, but still have to be considered a top tier team due to the talent level on the team. The Blue Devils, while loaded with individual talent, are still in search of a team identity and a leader on the field that can mesh the individuals into a team.
Gwinnett County Matchup Results:
Berkmar (3-0, 1-0) scored 13 points in the final quarter to down Shiloh (2-1, 0-1) at home, 29-14.
Archer (3-0, 1-0) jumped to a 19-3 first half lead, and then came back from a 20-19 third quarter deficit to down Brookwood (0-3, 0-1) by five, 25-20.
Grayson (1-2, 1-0) earned their first win of the season by defeating Parkview (0-3, 0-1), 34-10. It was the third consecutive game against a Top 11 team for both squads.
Mill Creek (3-0, 1-0) went on the road and hammered Mountain View (0-3, 0-1) 42-3 to remain undefeated. Mill Creek has outscored their opponents 86-13 in the last two games, 127- 41 overall, while Mountain View has been outscored 79-3 by other Gwinnett county teams, 96-16 overall.
Peachtree Ridge (3-0, 1-0) played host to Duluth (0-3, 0-1), and remained undefeated after downing the Wildcats by a 55-17 final.
Dacula (1-2, 1-0) traveled to Snellville to face South Gwinnett (1-2, 0-1), and came away with an overtime win, 35-29.
Gwinnett County vs. Non-Gwinnett Matchups:
Buford (3-0, 0-0) improved to 3-0 after dismantling the visiting Hancock Central Bulldogs (2-1, 0-1), 63-0.
Collins Hill (3-0, 1-0) held a 41-3 halftime lead, and then went on to a 55-3 victory over Habersham Central (0-3, 0-1) at home.
Lanier (3-0, 0-0) traveled to Franklin County (0-3, 0-0) and shutout the Lions, 27-0, to remain among the undefeated.
Gwinnett County public high schools are now 6-5 versus out-of-county opponents.
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