AAAAAA: Norcross 21, Lovejoy 14

Alvin Kamara had been held relatively in check for most of the night in the Class AAAAAA championship game on Saturday, but he broke loose at just the right time for Norcross.

The senior running back scored on a 61-yard reception and a 10-yard run as the Blue Devils (15-0) rallied from a 14-3 fourth-quarter deficit to beat Lovejoy 21-14 at the Georgia Dome and claim the first state title in school history.

The championship is the third consecutive for Gwinnett County, following Brookwood in 2010 and Grayson last year. The last time a team from Gwinnett or the current Region 1 did not win at least a share of the title in the highest classification was in 1995, when Quincy Carter led Southwest DeKalb to the Class AAAA title. It was the second consecutive loss in the final for Lovejoy (13-2), which lost to Tucker 22-7 in AAAA last season.

“It just feels awesome,” Norcross coach Keith Maloof said. “I can’t tell you how proud I am of how our kids fought, being down 7-0 and things not going our way in the first half. They’ve got a heck of a football team. We had some problems blocking them, but we found a way.”

Maloof and his father, the late George Maloof of St. Pius, become the third father-son duo to coach their teams to state championships in Georgia. Sandy Creek’s Chip Walker and his father Rodney were the first, and Calhoun’s Hal Lamb and his father Ray joined the select group last season.

The game was billed as a showdown between two of the state’s top running backs – Kamara and Lovejoy’s Travis Custis – but both were held below what might be expected of two 2,000-yard rushers, at least until Kamara took over in the fourth quarter.

Kamara finished with 119 yards rushing on 33 carries but had only one run of more than 10 yards. He also had three receptions for 67 yards and completed a pass for 34 yards. Custis had 60 yards on 20 carries for the game but just 4 yards on 11 carries in the second half.

Lovejoy led 14-3 after a 6-yard touchdown pass from Alejandro Bennifield to Brandon Davis with 1:34 remaining in the third quarter before the Blue Devils made their comeback.

Norcross scored three touchdowns in the final 7:17 of the game, and the spark came from Myles Autry, the team’s leader in receptions this season who played sparingly because of a knee injury he suffered in the semifinals against Colquitt County. His first catch of the night was an 11-yard touchdown reception from Joseph Wilber that cut the lead to 14-9.

Lovejoy was forced to punt on its next possession, and Norcross took over at its 38-yard line with 5:28 left. On the fourth play, Wilber found Kamara down the left sideline for the 61-yard touchdown. The Blue Devils’ two-point attempt failed, but Norcross had the lead at 15-14 with 4:26 to play.

Lovejoy turned it over on downs at its 31 on its next drive, and Kamara scored on the 10-yard run six plays later to make it 21-14 with 1:33 remaining. Lovejoy’s last-gasp drive ended in Norcross territory when Bennifield was intercepted by Jaquan Frazier.

Bennifield was 12-of-26 passing for 182 yards and had a 60-yard touchdown pass to Jumichael Ramos that was the only scoring in the first half. Lovejoy finished with 237 yards of total offense but was held to 65 in the second half.

Norcross’ Wilber completed 7 of 15 passes for 110 yards as the Blue Devils had 295 yards of total offense.

Lovejoy – 0-7-7-0 – 14

Norcross – 0-0-3-18– 21

L – Jumichael Ramos 60 pass from Alejandro Bennifield (Jaime Nunez kick)

N – Joseph Mahfood 31 field goal

L – Brandon Davis 6 pass from Bennifield (Nunez kick)

N – Myles Autry 11 pass from Joseph Wilber (pass failed)

N – Alvin Kamara 61 pass from Wilber (run failed)

N – Kamara 10 run (kick failed)

91 comments Add your comment

Stringer Bell

December 16th, 2012
12:02 am

Stringer Bell

December 16th, 2012
12:04 am

Congrats to Norcross…Kamara is a workhorse.

Oh Man

December 16th, 2012
12:04 am

WOW! Lovejoy you had all the MO until your coach went so conservative in the second half. Your QB didn’t help either.

morrowmustang

December 16th, 2012
12:04 am

Oh Man

December 16th, 2012
12:05 am

Also, Kamara much better than Custis.

packfan

December 16th, 2012
12:06 am

congrats norcross on a great season

morrowmustang

December 16th, 2012
12:07 am

After watching Lovejoy talk trash all year I am glad that Clayton County still has only one state championship the 1987 Morrow win at Tara Stadium under a class act Bud Theodocian. Even at the end of the game Lovejoy is in a Norcross kids face. Unbelievable Choke!!

Pecan

December 16th, 2012
12:09 am

Told y’all it would be Norcross in a thriller. Where are all you Lovejoy fans?

GwinnettAgain

December 16th, 2012
12:20 am

Love to see another Gwinnett County school crowned as State Champions. Gwinnett football is the class of the state. Congrats Norcross!

1998 Norcross Grad

December 16th, 2012
12:24 am

Norcross played till the last whistle!!! Got the job done. I am very proud of my Blue Devils!!!

Casual_Observer

December 16th, 2012
12:41 am

Lovejoy is the Buffalo Bills of Ga. High School Football. – Major choke artist. I hope that thug that got in the Norcross players face gets his just rewards.

sportsnut

December 16th, 2012
12:56 am

Congratulations to Norcross, the 2012 State Champions. Well done.

5150 UOAD

December 16th, 2012
12:57 am

where were all you posters during the game. we were talking all game on the Prep blog. Nice to have your input but would have been nice if you joined during the game.

Lovejoy Bubba

December 16th, 2012
1:03 am

You are right Oh Man…..you definitely don’t go conservative with just about the whole 4th qtr to play. Terrible offensive strategy.Norcross deserved to win. Classy coaches and players…

Camden74

December 16th, 2012
1:06 am

The Cross and the rest of the Norcross Fans, CONGRATULATIONS on your first STATE TITLE! You’ve made history by becoming Georgia’s FIRST, CLASS 6A FOOTBALL CHAMPION! Welcome to the club! :-)

RobFromNorcross

December 16th, 2012
1:06 am

Just got back from the game, Lovejoy played a monster game and was the best D that we have seen this season. I think they would probably say the same about our D…

The Norcross O just couldn’t really get it clicking and a lot of the credit for that goes to Lovejoy. But Norcross did what champions do– they find a way to win when things aren’t all falling the right way.

Lovejoy played hard and clean, and it could have gone either way. We made it more exciting at the very end than we needed to by scoring that last TD instead of taking a knee three times, but we got the pick to end it.

sportsnut

December 16th, 2012
1:28 am

@ Rob == Thanks and Congratulations on the win. It was a hard fought game and Norcross did what they had to do win. Oh Man has it right. Coach Chapman, the O/C, did the wrong thing. This is where the game was lost. From the start of the 4th, he assumed that the D could hold Norcross. His choice to stop passing was the downfall. Norcross took advantage and scored. Then again. His choice left the D on the field to long. Game over.

5150 UOAD

December 16th, 2012
1:35 am

sportnut….not i think when it was 2nd and 2 and we threw the long pass down the sidelines and missed then ran off tackle on 3rd down for a loss was the mistake. Should have run for the 2 yards and go new downs then pass. The Safety playing the ball and not Kamara on his TD catch was a HUGE mistake too.

Fred

December 16th, 2012
1:53 am

@sportsnut – Two way to look at it. Norcross had not been able to do too much all game so I can see how the O coordinator could think/call it the way he did. For me, you have be up a lot more than y’all were but that’s me. The other way is to recognize that Norcross shot themselves with turnovers and errors in the first half and if they stop that (which they did) they can score in a hurry. Norcross played in the fourth quarter like I saw them play all 4 quarters last week.

NCross

December 16th, 2012
1:57 am

Back from the Dome and just wanted to say I was impressed with Lovejoy’s players and coaches. Norcross was very fortunate to win. Very hard fought game. Lovejoy played some tough defense.

BullDawg Rick

December 16th, 2012
2:14 am

Mucho congratulations to Lovejoy for making a game outta the first AAAAAA State Championship!!

Way to carry the banner – Blue Devils!!

Gwinnett – Again!!

Region 7-AAA

December 16th, 2012
3:56 am

I wonder where that big Lovejoy troll is that was blowing up the comment feed this past week with all his “Lovejoy WILL win” gibberish.

I thought it was an awesome game! Well played on both sides!

The Cross

December 16th, 2012
4:19 am

I have finally come down from cloud nine long enough to write a post.

I want to first congratulate Lovejoy for a great season and playing a great championship game. This game truly could have gone either way. The Lovejoy fans and players showed a lot of class after the game. The Clayton County community should be proud of this group, going to back to back Dome appearances is impressive. Sportsnut, Your boys were as advertised and play GOOD hard nosed football.

Now I want to congratulate my Blue Devils. I graduated from Norcross in 1985 and we made the playoffs the three years that I played Varsity but never made it out of the second round. My son who is a senior was able to help make history and I am so proud of him for a great season and giving me so much joy in his high school career. What a way to end your senior season…I was able to get down on the field with 1:30 left and I was there to catch my son coming off the field after the last snap and his tears of joy as he lifted me up was the greatest feeling…a moment that was overwhelming. I am proud to be associated with the program and what football has given my son from a leadership perspective and a driver of his maturation is awesome. Team sports teach these young men a library full of life lessons. Well done Coach Maloof and staff!!! You guys deserve this moment. Fortunately I have one more week of high school football as he was honored with making the Gwinnett all-star game.

I also want to tell you guys how much I have enjoyed debating, sparring and the overall goofiness that goes on in these posts/blogs. I know I have annoyed some and hopefully entertained some. It has been literally a perfect season.

The Cross

Clive

December 16th, 2012
5:33 am

Region 7,

Grow up, son!

lhsalum33

December 16th, 2012
6:51 am

The Cross: great game! That conservative play calling by Coach Chatman made it tough on the I when they needed to get down field after Norcross scored. I was on the edge from the first whistle. Norcross did what champions do, find ways to win…they could’ve threw it in after they hadn’t done anything all game, but they believed and fought. Most exciting game this weekend by far maybe second next to that Calhoun/Buford 2011 in the past few years!

GwinnettDad

December 16th, 2012
7:35 am

Congratulations to Norcross.

Condolences to Lovejoy. Thought #30 & #40 for Lovejoy were going to decide the game on D. They were making the difference until the 4th quarter.

Norcross Class of 1975

December 16th, 2012
7:38 am

What a great game by two excellent teams. I can’t figure out where Lovejoy’s defense was vs. North Cobb last week. This confirms that defense wins championships.

At the beginning of the 4th quarter I was thinking HOW are the Lovejoy players going to carry their 400 pound coach on their shoulders after the game? That was never going to happen.

55 years to win a first state football championship is a really long time and makes it that much sweeter! GO BLUE DEVILS! “We believe that we will WIN!”

Johnny Robinson

December 16th, 2012
7:46 am

Congratulations to the Norcross Blue Devils on their state championship. Well deserved.The landscape of HS football has changed in the last 20 years. When I moved to Georgia in 1986., the great teams played south of the Gnat line. For 2012, only 1 state champion south of the Gnat line. And I feel they won by default of the split in 1A. If they had kept 1A together, ECI would not be a state champion.

Also, congratulations to Buford!!! An unbelievable dynasty they have up there. They are definitely the best team in the state fo Georgia over the last 10 years. The only team that actually defeated them this year won a championship themselves (Gainesville).

Just wondering. which Gwinnett county team is going to be 6A champion next year (2013). Yes, I already made the prediction. You heard it here 1st.

wolfbait67

December 16th, 2012
7:47 am

next year when they are talking about the best championship games, this one will be at the top of the heap…….what a good old fashion slobber-knocker…….kudos to Norcross and The Nor X for giving the fans a truly great Christmas present to live and share forever….it will only get better…..Coach Maloof—well deserved to a truly Class Act….

BigTimeTECHFan

December 16th, 2012
8:01 am

Love Joy let Kamara score the last TD to get the ball back, very smart play as it almost paid off with the long kick return.

6AAAAAA

December 16th, 2012
8:13 am

Hey Ralph – When you going to make the highest classification championship fair to the rest of the state and separate Gwinnett county schools and powerhouses like Camden, Colquitt, Lowndes, etc into their own mega conference? When a Gwinnett school has won or shared the title since 1995 maybe it’s time to rearrange your precious classifications. Gwinnett has the biggest schools (some with 4000 students) playing playoff games against classication schools where 50% or more have less than 2100 kids.

This isn’t just a football problem – its basketball, baseball, track, wrestling, soccer, etc. You watch and see how many of these state championships go to Gwinnett.

Lovejoy should be the 5A champion today. Fix this system Ralph – too many really good programs in Cobb, Fulton, and Forsyth are being screwed by this new 6 class system.

Gil Tyree sucks eggs

December 16th, 2012
8:50 am

Tyree was the worst announcer all weekend. Tried to focus things on himself with his annoying play by play, rather than the game. Please stop using him.

pioneer

December 16th, 2012
8:55 am

Seven “state champion” games and five of them blowouts. But the GHSA has their money and lots of people feel good with their trophies. Congrats to the winners but haven’t we watered down “champion” enough?

Logan

December 16th, 2012
8:58 am

I think we know which region represents the SEC in this Georgia League

Just a Fan

December 16th, 2012
9:08 am

Worse announcer: Gil Tyree Worse uniforms: Norcross-Congrats,we dont have to hear about the superiority of south Ga football for awhile.

Lovejoydad

December 16th, 2012
9:11 am

Congratulations to the Blue devils on a great hardought victory. You cant win a game or especially a state championship in 3 quarters. Our boys have great players but they too often get out coached’ You cant run the clock out for an entire quarter. The bottom line is that Norcross played all 4 quarters and we only played 3. The result Norcross 2012 6a state champions. Congratulations again.@ O Man Kamara is not better than Custus (check the stats) Unfortunately when they lock in on Travis our coaches don’t or can’t make adjustments.

GwinnettDad

December 16th, 2012
9:31 am

@6AAAAAA – what the H are you talking about? Lowndes with their 3 State Championships in the largest bracket, or Camden with their 3, or Valdosta, I believe, in 1998, are NOT from Gwinnett. Or even SOUTH GWINNETT. Duh! Finding ways to whine is one thing. Finding stupid things to write that aren’t true is something else.

warhawk

December 16th, 2012
9:38 am

NORTH-EAST Georgia RULES !!!

Norcross
Buford
Gainesville
Jefferson

hit a single

December 16th, 2012
9:42 am

I hope GHSA realizes that we need to go back to the way it was. You have teams playing AA that have no business in AA and the same goes with the other Classifications. Put back in the multiplier for Private Schools with large populations. Worse weekend of high school football ever and it goes back to the way the classifications are. Out of the 32 teams that made the playoffs probably over half couldn’t compete with the other half. There weren’t enough teams in each classifications. But congratulations to all State Champions. Man ECI and Eagles Landing would have been a heck of a game. Buford and Jefferson would have been a heck of a game. Gainsville and Sandy Creek would have been a heck of a game. Just some examples of alot better matchups if we have of had the old set up. Let those 33 public schools get there own league, they won’t be gone long. Oh yea GPTV, I know you are trying and it is great to see the games on TV but get set some standards or training for all announcers.

Herschel Walker's Revenge

December 16th, 2012
9:44 am

I’m a traditionalist and feel that teams north of Macon should be playing for the North Georgia Championship in their bracket, and the South Georgia Champion should be crowned in the other bracket. In alternating years, these championship games should be held in either North Georgia or South Georgia. The games and their resulting revenue are boons for the local towns, and it’s sad that the dome gets these blowout games.

My dad and I have been watching state championship games since 1981 (Commerce vs. Greene County), but we stopped watching them in person when they started being held at the Dome. There is nothing special about the GD. But driving into a smaller town and not knowing where the high school is…but following the lights of the stadium…is part of the allure of the locally held games.

Obviously only one of these teams would have made the championship as the North Georgia rep, and it probably would have been Norcross with Kamara. He’s very special. But there are great teams south of the fall line and gnat line. They do get their chances against Atlanta schools, but these playoff games where fans and players have to ride 5 hours to the game are tough. State Championship games are different.

robo71

December 16th, 2012
10:05 am

How does that crow taste? Never guarantee a win…… Well done norcross.

RobFromNorcross

December 16th, 2012
10:19 am

Herschel- Norcross made the 5+ trip to Camden County in the playoffs and it made us stronger. I doubt if most of your South Georgia brethren feel entitled to an all-South Ga half of the bracket.

That Dude Says...

December 16th, 2012
10:33 am

I think people complaining about the blowout’s in the state championships have a point to some extent. I don’t think we should have a North Ga and South Ga champion, separate private or public champs, or less classifications. I know the seedings are predetermined before the playoffs even start. Instead of having this regions 1-4 play this regions 1-4 they should look at the body of work of each team in the playoffs and reseed them. My team Sandy Creek in AAAA won in the semi’s 35-0 and last night in the finals 45-10. When my Patriots played Burke Co in the quarters it was pretty much assumed if you kept up with AAAA football this year that the winner would be HEAVY favorite to win state. It’s a shame such a great game between the two best teams in AAAA faced each other in the quarters. I think if the GHSA reseeded the teams that would help cut down with the blowouts. It would also build hype and excitement if you knew the better teams would be facing each other deeper in the playoffs instead of earlier.

anon1

December 16th, 2012
10:51 am

Don’t typically watch HS football on tv, so is it normal to have such lousy play by play and color commentator?. At least even the worst college commentators don’t have to worry about either of these guys taking their job.

Tom

December 16th, 2012
11:07 am

Good call by RobFromNorcross. As soon as Norcross took over on downs, I wondered which coach would figure out first that Lovejoy’s only chance would be if Norcross scored another TD to go up 8 (or, as it turned out, 7) and left time on the clock. Ideally, when the Lovejoy defense basically stood up and let Kamara thru the line on the last TD, he should have been instructed to go down past the 1st down but BEFORE the goal line. Lovejoy would have never touched the ball again.

Great game! Congrats to Keith….I know his Dad (a great Tech Man!) is proud!

Cat Man

December 16th, 2012
11:16 am

@ Cross and all the others from Norcross, what a game! I think Lovejoy dad said what I wanted to say too. You’ve got to play all 4 quarters which Norcross did and deserves to be the champs. Congatulations on a great season! Custis gets only 4 yds. in the second half. Your coaches obviously adjusted at halftime. Kamara turns it on in the 4th. Great player! My group was sitting there wondering the same thing as most of the other Lovejoy fans, why in the heck are still running Custis when we can throw? Oh well. You guys have a great team and I know you’re proud of them.

Oh Man

December 16th, 2012
11:20 am

A agree with “Just A fan”. Gil Tyree has to be the WORST broadcaster I have ever listened to! Please don’t bring him back!

It was a great game to watch! I thought it was the best game of the weekend. As a supporter of AA schools, I really enjoyed watching this game. Congrats to Norcross. The Lovejoy coach relied to much on his which played great just about the whole game. Shame on the Lovejoy coaches for getting conservative and running straight up the middle on every play the last qtr and a half. You choked big time! You needed to mix it up a lot more. You had the game won but totally blew it!

bob

December 16th, 2012
11:23 am

NORCROSS U STILL ARE LOSERS LOVEJOY IS THE BEST

bob

December 16th, 2012
11:31 am

AL HUGHES NEEDS TO BE FIRED

5150 UOAD

December 16th, 2012
12:15 pm

Here is what the Players should be looking forward to:

Congrats to the (5) current and former Yellow Jackets graduating on Saturday!!! David Sims Emmanuel Dieke Roderick Sweeting Jahi Word-Daniels Brad Brad J. Jefferson

Congratulations Rod. What an accomplishment brother. Enjoy it man

Emmanuel Dieke
Its official!!! Ya boy done graduated from georgia Tech!! One of the best feelings ever and well deserved!! I dont know what nexts for me but whatever it is, i know that God will guide my path!! Thank you family, friends and all those who supported ya boy! #TRU

Jahi Word-Daniels 2 hours ago near Panthersville
Finally an alumni! Going back and getting my degree…Way better feeling than playing in the NFL!! God is good!