Hayden Sphire threw three touchdown passes and North Gwinnett overcame three turnovers to beat Camden County 34-14 in the Corky Kell Classic Saturday, spoiling Camden’s first game under new head coach Welton Coffee.
Sphire was intercepted on his first attempt and the Bulldogs fumbled after a pass completion to thwart another first-half drive.
The shaky start didn’t last, as the Bulldogs, ranked No. 4 in Class AAAAAA, rebounded to outgain No. 5 Camden 395-248 and compile 22 first downs.
Sphire finished with 206 passing yards, while Chris Leggett carried 23 times for 138 yards, for North Gwinnett, 108 coming in the first half.
The Bulldogs’ 34 points were the most allowed by Camden in a regular-season game since St. Thomas Aquinas (Fla.) beat the Wildcats 42-28 in 2010. The last time a Georgia team scored 30 points in a regular-season game against Camden was in the season opener in 1999, a 36-20 loss to Charlton County.
Camden’s Demetri Saulsberry made a diving interception on Sphire’s first attempt on the Bulldogs’ second offensive play, and Camden moved 69 yards in four plays for the first score, a 37-yard run by Antonio Wimbush.
The Bulldogs responded on the following series, moving 58 yards in seven plays. Sphire connected with Nate Brown from seven yards out for the score.
The Bulldogs used some sleight of hand to notch their second touchdown. On third down from the Camden 7-yard line, Sphire walked away from the line as if to take instructions from the bench, and the ball was snapped directly to Leggett. The play appeared to catch Camden on its heels and Leggett had a relatively easy run to the end zone from seven yards out.
The Wildcats answered on the next play from scrimmage with Harrison Poole’s 60-yard run at the 11:06 mark in the second period, knotting the score at 14.
From there, North Gwinnett seized control of the game, scoring the final 10 points of the half on Sphire’s 21-yard pass to Caleb Scott and getting an 18-yard field goal from Michael D’Angola as time expired.
They added 10 more in the first seven minutes of the third period. D’Angola booted his second field goal, this one from 40 yards out, and Sphire connected with Brown for a 10-yard TD pass to put the game out of reach.
Poole finished with 136 yards on 12 carries for the Wildcats, who rushed for 247 yards and completed just one of six pass attempts.
Camden County 7 7 0 0 – 14
North Gwinnett 7 17 10 0 – 34
CC – Antonio Wimbush 37 run (Hudson Jordan kick)
NG – Nate Brown 7 pass from Hayden Sphire (Michael D’Angola kick)
NG – Chris Leggett 7 run (D’Angola kick)
CC – Harrison Poole 60 run (Jordan kick)
NG – Caleb Scott 21 pass from Sphire (D’Angola kick)
NG – D’Angola 18-yard field goal
NG – D’Angola 40-yard field goal
NG – Brown 10 pass from Sphire (D’Angola kick)
Historical information from GHSFA.org was used in this article.