North Gwinnett 36, Norcross 17

NORCROSS – The No. 1-ranked North Gwinnett Bulldogs needed something extra if they were going to get past their rival, No. 6-ranked Norcross. They found it in receiver Nate Brown.

Brown caught four touchdowns and 10 passes for 179 yards as the Bulldogs dominated the second half en route to a 36-17 victory in a crucial Region 7-AAAAAA game.

Brown used his speed to create separation for wide open touchdown catches for the Bulldogs (3-0), and the Blue Devils (1-2) never adjusted, oftentimes leaving him in single coverage. North Gwinnett quarterback Hayden Sphire finished 19 of 30 with 271 yards and the four touchdowns to Brown.

Norcross opened the game on a 14-0 run and led 17-10 at halftime. As effective as Brown was, the Bulldogs defense also played a big role, shutting out the Blue Devils in the second half. The Bulldogs defense – led by top recruit Dante Sawyer – effectively pressured Blue Devils quarterback A.J. Bush, forcing him out of the pocket to make ill-advised passes. Bush finished 14 of 26 with an interception and touchdown pass.

North Gwinnett began to seize momentum in the second half. After a Norcross special teams player ran into Caleb Scott as Scott was fielding a punt, the Bulldogs got the ball on Norcross’ 32 and scored on the first play with Brown’s second touchdown reception of the game. Three minutes later, Brown caught a 29-yard touchdown pass to give the Bulldogs a 22-17 lead. Both Brown touchdowns ended with failed two-point conversions.

The Bulldogs effectively put the game away while sucking the life out of Norcross and its fans on the Bulldogs’ next possession. On third-and-20, North Gwinnett ran a double reverse that ended with Scott catching a 35-yard touchdown pass from receiver Almonzo Brown. North Gwinnett took a 29-17 lead with 11:28 remaining and never looked back.

This matchup served as the region opener for both teams and has carried region champion implications. The winner has gone on to take 7-AAAAAA six of the last seven years. The Bulldogs have now won five of the last six in the series.

With the win, the Bulldogs are the first AAAAAA team to win while holding the No. 1 ranking. Norcross and Colquitt County each previously held the top spot.

The Blue Devils will travel to face Duluth next week, while the Bulldogs host Meadowcreek.

North Gwinnett 0 10 12 14 – 36

Norcross 7 10 0 0 – 17

N – Josh Boyd 19 run (Blake Bingham kick)

N – Christopher Herndon 32 pass from A.J. Bush (Bingham kick)

NG – Nate Brown 15 pass from Hayden Sphire (Michael D’Angola kick)

NG – D’Angola 28 FG

N – Bingham 26 FG

NG – Brown 32 pass from Sphire (conversion failed)

NG – Brown 29 pass from Sphire (conversion failed)

NG – Caleb Scott 35 pass from Almonzo Brown (D’Angola kick)

NG – Brown 29 pass (D’Angola kick)

Follow Adam Krohn @AdamKrohnAJC.

31 comments Add your comment

Camden74

September 13th, 2013
10:21 pm

Norcroos lost it’s leader and the heart of the team when Kamara left…… :-)

Camden74

September 13th, 2013
10:41 pm

“Norcross” :-)

NGHS 09

September 13th, 2013
11:23 pm

The field goal from the first half could have easily been a TD if Almonzo Brown didn’t drop the TD pass that was perfectly thrown by Sphire. Almonzo redeemed himself big time with the 35 yd strike to Caleb Scott. NG owned the second half.

HSFB Follower

September 13th, 2013
11:29 pm

@Camden74 you sure right about that! North Gwinnett is serious as serious can get! and whooooa Camden 91-6, yall worked on somethings huh?

bksmith14

September 13th, 2013
11:30 pm

nghs09 …you guys have a shot this year. Goin to take a big time effort on someones part to beat north gwinnett. as far as my vikings go..we arent going anywhere. w forest found out what happens when the vikings get pissed off tonight ..87-0

bksmith14

September 13th, 2013
11:31 pm

beach couldnt beat the lowndes cheerleaders in a football game…91-6? my gosh..

Sportsnut

September 13th, 2013
11:42 pm

Congrats North. You are the best right now. You deserve it. You have earned it.

Camden74

September 14th, 2013
12:15 am

HSFB Follower……The game was out of hand in the first quarter. The offense hardly played in the quarter. I believe Camden had probably 4-5 interceptions in the first half. Then, the JV guys were sent in, they rolled, finally, the 9th graders, the same. The score was 63-0 at the half. Beach players basically were whipped after the first quarter. This was purely a practice secession. I will never like Camden beating teams like tonight. But, it could not be helped. You can’t expect the young kids not to play hard when they get on the field. Camden has a young team and 11 new coaches. They really needed to have these first four games to get their bearings. Region play starts in a few weeks. Hopefully, they’re ready to rock n roll when Valdosta comes to town! The CATS will be RELEASED! :-D

bksmith14

September 14th, 2013
12:44 am

valdosta is goin to find out what they are made of when they run into a defense that can shut down those talented running backs they have …–i know a team that plays right across town from them that can and will also be kicking the ball off in the endzone 99% of the time…Lowndes

WnE

September 14th, 2013
4:31 am

The Autry kid wasn’t a factor in this game, did he get re-injured?

The write-up doesn’t mention Autry or why he was not a factor.

From an outsider’s perspective, it looked as if he was “making a business decision” about his future and appeared to be saving himself for the college level, and wanted no part of this physical game vs. an amped up N.Gwinnett team.

From watching the game on TV is appears the Norcross QB is very poorly coached, he has some of the worst habits and worst fundamentals I have seen on a HS QB in a “larger classification” in a very long time here in Ga.

I noticed that the TV announcers mentioned where some of Norcross’s players transferred from and I couldn’t help but wonder is the Norcross HC a “recruiter” or a legit HS HC that teaches fundamentals and develops players.

Norcross’s Team seriously lacked fundamentals and looked poorly prepared.

Looking at the game on TV it seemed that Norcross had better personnel that the HC has failed to “coach up”, while N.Gwinnett seemed very well coached and was getting the max out of their talent.

BulldogsStillBite

September 14th, 2013
5:18 am

North clearly got in their heads in second half – a great night out for football. You clearly saw the contrast of coaches – North did not play a good first half, penalties galore, but did not quit. Once North took the lead, Norcross could do nothing. They clearly had more talent on the field, but lacked mightily in the coaching area. Joseph Wilber and Alvin Kamara were the difference makers on last year’s Norcross team. I understand why BTW clubbed them so badly, it looked to me sitting in the stands they totally lost heart. North still has areas to improve, but this years team looks like they are serious about challenging for a state championship. There were a few suspect calls on the field, but that doesn’t deter good teams. The balls Hayden Sphire threw to Nate Brown were some of the nicest passes I have seen in a long time. Norcross had nobody that could cover that guy. I was wrong about one thing – North made a lot more mistakes on the field, keeping drives alive for Norcross, but still won by more than 2 TDs. Norcross QB Bush’s deep balls were seemingly up for grabs every time, or I would say were more lofted than thrown. At any rate, on this night, no question who was undisputed; come November – we’ll see if it is sustainable all the way back to the dome…..naysayers keep talking…North will be the doormat for NO ONE this season.

Camden 79

September 14th, 2013
5:25 am

Right now North Gwinnett is the best team from the Atlanta area, I watched a very well coached and disciplined team wear down a good Norcross team, Autry was not a factor at all, their Q.B. is not that good,If N.G. stays healthy they will be tough to beat by seasons end,CAMDEN beginning to play together,off week then here comes VALDOSTA…………FEAR THE PAW

Shabo

September 14th, 2013
7:12 am

Well Well Well…………guess the Norcross DBs aren’t just as good as Akins/Simp last year like Maloof stated early in the season that they are. And to think I had Norcross best DB at my home 20 mins before kickoff is what really bothers me but he (Maloof) doesn’t play 9th graders on Varsity because he doesn’t feel like coaching. #TheyKnow

Shabo

September 14th, 2013
7:25 am

With all the 4/5 star players Norcross seems to think its easy but the team that went 15-0 put in work at practice to become great and got the results. Going into the season all Norcross was hearing was how great they are but what’s key is the work wasn’t put in so now we are seeing the results. Everything that glitters ain’t gold…..some of it’s fugazi and needs to be return for refund……ASAP.
#TheyKnowToo

Just a Fan

September 14th, 2013
8:34 am

What seems to be the problem? Too many transfers or not enough?

Dosta Dawg

September 14th, 2013
8:41 am

@ bksmith14 – C’mon man!!!!! WINDSOR FORREST??? You guys beat up on a Savannah school and now you talking again???? I bet Lowndes wouldn’t play WINDSOR FORREST or any other Savannah school in BASKETBALL!!! LMAO
Also, you don’t have to kick to our 2 backs, we’ll take it on the 20yd line. Those 2 backs, the QB and Wr’s are all dangerous as a group.

Valdosta did not play well against CRISP. The team seemed very flat and played with NO emotion!!! We better get that fixed real quick. CRISP did a good job of slowing the game down and trying to hold the ball.

bighoss

September 14th, 2013
10:50 am

what a job bob sphire has done with this program he is the best

Camden74

September 14th, 2013
12:01 pm

The question is, can NG sustain their momentum through the playoffs? There’s still a whole lot of football to play! :-)

matt

September 14th, 2013
2:42 pm

Watched game on GPB last night. Gotta echo the comments above about the QB from Norcross. Really poor decision making and fundamentals.

NGHS 09

September 14th, 2013
7:13 pm

I’ve been saying it for years…if you have ever watched NG play Norcross then you can easily see the difference in coaching. Also like I said…NG has the pieces on offense to compliment the defense this year. I also said that Hayden Sphire would light it up this year. For all the NG fans on here…imagine what Tamburo, Uzomah, Hosch, or Haynes would have done with 4 receivers 6+ feet tall. It has always been the missing piece of Sphire’s offense. I honestly think that last year’s defense was much better than this season, but it’s hard to notice when the offense does things like they did last night. MAKE THAT 5 out of the last 6 years over Norcross. NG will get a title soon. It’s bound to happen. I can see Norcross taking the #2 spot out of Region 7. They have a really good ground game and if their QB can find any accuracy, they’ll make a run. Lastly, i’ve been saying this for years as well, and Maloof showed how he is not a great coach last night.

bksmith14

September 15th, 2013
4:32 am

nobody expected lowndes to beat windsor forrest 87-0 . We all thought it would be a 35-7 ..42-0 type of game..just last year it was 38-0. Say what you want…yes wf is not that good, but we came out fired up and did not let up and make mistakes this game. No fumbles..only 6 or 7 penalties which is a lot better than 14.

GwinnettDad

September 15th, 2013
6:24 am

NGHS 09 – yes, if NG can stop disappearing unexpectedly during the playoffs, they might be the fourth Gwinnett AAAAAA State Championship in a row. However, had I been a betting man, I would already have lost my shirt betting on NG. That’s always puzzled me.

football fan

September 15th, 2013
7:54 am

@just a fan – NG has some questionable transfers that don’t live in the district full time, so both teams are playing the same game… just saying

BulldogsStillBite

September 15th, 2013
11:24 am

@football fan – name some “questionable transfers” at North this season…..do you have the scoop on where they live? Do you know the process they went through to enroll? All this transfer talk is just fan fanatism…the bottom line is Norcross’ QB is presently playing inconsistent – which affects your whole team. The pressure got to him and he made bad decisions around that. So what if he is a transfer…he does not yet appear to have good chemistry with his team. If that develops, they have enough athletes to give anyone a problem….but you don’t win a lot playing in panic mode. Miles Autry was non existent – he was supposed to be a key cog in their attack…I’m not sure he’s 100% yet. I hope he gets there…I have followed NG for a while now and they always seem to be missing a piece to get them over the hump. The QB play is going to be key to their run this year. This is one year where nobody looks really dominant in AAAAAA; of the teams I’ve seen North is playing the best. I have a feeling come December THIS YEAR, they will still be playing….

Camden74

September 15th, 2013
12:11 pm

Even though I haven’t seen all of the really good Class 6A teams play. Of the ones I’ve seen, North Gwinnett is the best I’ve seen so far. But there’s still a lot of football to be played, and the playoffs bring something a little different than the regular season. Let’s see how they handle the pressure of being ranked # 1 and the fact of, win or go home, in the playoffs! :-)

bksmith14

September 15th, 2013
6:43 pm

north gwinnett owned camden..they owned norcross and beat grayson like a red headed step child. Until they get beat, they are the team to beat this year. Thats my look on it.

Camden74

September 15th, 2013
7:26 pm

Bk…What will your outlook be when Camden blows past Lowndes? :-D

GwinnettDad

September 15th, 2013
8:34 pm

@74 – you have an interesting game to watch – Valdosta has to travel to Newton before they travel to Camden. Newton, of course, defeated Lowndes on their field, and nobody, including me, gave them a prayer – just figured they’d be another sacrificial lamb for Lowndes as their first four opponents were 11-30 last year. Shows how each game has to be played . . . well, after Beach and 91-6 and Lowndes whipping WF 87-0, another former 3-AAAAA patsy, maybe I should say, most games have to be played . . .:-)

Camden74

September 15th, 2013
10:12 pm

GwinnettDad…..Hopefully, that’s the last time Camden or Lowndes plays a Savannah team in football. Normally, Savannah teams play hard until the final gun. But, I guess the kids decide not to be conforming sacrificial lambs for the sake of a payday. RELEASE the CATS!!!! :-D

Tha Truth

September 16th, 2013
11:16 am

I was at th NG-Norcross game….Here is the breakdown of Norcross…QB- Last years Norcross QB was not spectacular but didn’t make many mistakes, very efficient..this years QB happy feet and horrible instincts and mechanics…RB – ALVIN KAMARA ! …safeties had to play up which resulted in receivers being open..DB -Last year they had lock down corners !! which resulted in Lorenzo Carter and company to make more plays…AUTRY- He will be ok, he’s too good…He wont hit his stride until the halfway point of the season..didnt have any contact until the BTW game…oh and another thing…COACHING….imagine NG Head Coach Sphire with that talent !!…before I forget @BulldogsStillBite we will re-visit the North Gwinnett recruiting topic in basketball season…Tha Truth Shall Set You Free

BulldogsStillBite

September 16th, 2013
4:02 pm

basketball….lol