Norcross 28 Etowah 0

By Robert Haddocks

With its offense sputtering, Norcross had to turn to its defense. That’s not a bad option.

The Blue Devils intercepted four passes, including one returned for a touchdown, as they trounced Etowah 28-0 in the first round of the Class AAAAAA playoffs. Norcross, the defending state champions, will host Brookwood next week.

No.1 seeded Norcross (9-2) broke open the game with two touchdowns in less than one minute. After a scoreless first half, the Blue Devils drove 50 yards on their opening drive of the second half with Warren McWilliams scoring on a 1-yard run. Two plays later, Jordan Noil jumped on a John Oliver pass and raced  25 yards for the score and a 14-0 lead. “Jordan’s pick set the tone for the rest of the half,” said Norcross coach Keith Maloof.

Since some early season lapses, the Norcross defense has shut down nearly every opponent.  The Blue Devils have allowed seven or fewer points in five of their last seven games. Maloof said the defense “took some heat” after allowing 55 points to Booker T. Washington in a nationally televised season opener and 36 points in a loss to North Gwinnett.  “They came to work every day and got rid of all the negative stuff and turned out a great performance in the first round of the state playoffs,” the coach said. “They’ve worked hard and been pretty dominant at times.”

Norcross limited Etowah (7-4) to 134 total yards. The run-oriented Eagles had 81 yards on 37 carries.

Maloof said he never was worried as his own offense struggled through the first half, in part because of his stout defense. “When you’re able to play great (defense), you give your team a chance,” he said. In the regular season finale, the Blue Devils came up with three interceptions, including two returned for touchdowns, one by Ridwan Issahaku. The senior defensive back nabbed two more Friday, giving him four in two games. Brandon Garner also had a pick.

“They’re a very athletic group and they’re very coachable,” Maloof said. “They’ve worked hard on breaking on the ball and creating turnovers for our team.”

Issahaku’s second interception midway through the fourth quarter and led to a 21-yard touchdown run by A.J. Bush two plays later. The quarterback bowled over a defender to get into the end zone. Three plays after Garner’s pick and 50-yard return to the Etowah 9-yard line, Bush floated a pass to Darian Dennis for a 5-yard touchdown.

Norcross finished with 186 yards rushing, led by Bush with 64 yards.

Neither team did much of anything in a scoreless first half. Norcross, which had five first downs,  managed 92 rushing yards, 46 of those coming on runs or scrambles by Bush. The senior quarterback completed three of nine passes for four yards in the half. Etowah had just 67 total yards in the half. The Eagles missed a 37-yard field goal and had a second drive stall on an interception by Issahaku inside the 10-yard line.

Norcross – 0- 0 – 14 – 14 – 28

Etowah – 0 – 0 – 0 – 0 – 0

N – Warren McWilliams 1 run (Blake Bingham kick)

N – Jordan Noil 25 interception return (Bingham kick)

N – A.J. Bush 21 run (Bingham kick)

N – Darian Dennis 5 pass from Bush (Bingham kick)

5 comments Add your comment


November 16th, 2013
7:39 am

Congratulations on you win.

No joke

November 16th, 2013
12:09 pm

Congrats to Norcross, but anyone sitting in the stands at this game knows norcross did not “trounce” Etowah. Etowah played them tough. Take nothing away from norcross, they found a way to win the game like great football teams do, but Mr. Haddocks poorly written and biased article makes it sound as if it was a dominating win for the Blue Devils. You would think that someone who watched the entire game whos job was to report on it would have payed better attention. Etowah should be proud of the way they played. Obviously the Eagles don’t play for moral victories, but I was proud to watch the Eagles stand toe to toe with the defending state champions and give them all they could handle. Congratulations on a great season Etowah and for setting a great foundation for next years team. Good luck through the rest of the playoffs to Norcross. GO EAGLES!!!


November 17th, 2013
3:20 am

@ No joke Etowah has a good football team….however the only thing that kept that game “close” was the weather.(IMO) As soon as the weather broke 2 different teams appeared. Did Etowah hold their own?…no question! But on a quest to advance…. a good team will have to find a way to overcome adversity …and I think you can agree they did just that. #39 ( FB) is a dang good football player. I thought you should have given him the ball more. By the way…if it is any consolation to you.. your guys played us very similarly to Collins Hill ( who has a very good chance of going far in these playoffs as well) and the score was exactly the same. Bottom line is in the second half our defense made Etowah’s offense one dimensional and once that happened our true character emerged. As we go deeper we must play a full 4 quarters to repeat….Etowah provided us with a very vivid reminder of what it takes! And we thank them for the wake up call!


November 17th, 2013
8:17 am

@no joke – I agree that Etowah played a solid game against Norcross. Especially in the first half. The rain slowed down both teams and limited the options. The Norcross offense was sputtering quite a bit and getting backed up by penalties. Etowah deserves credit for stopping us from moving down the field. The real difference in the game was the Norcross defense. Offense sometimes has an off-night. But the Norcross defense has gotten better each week and they are pretty tough to get yards against. Good luck to the Etowah team in the off-season and I’m glad you got the opportunity to go toe-to-toe at Norcross.


November 18th, 2013
11:08 am

@No joke… Anyone watching that game knew that Etowah was totally outmatched in that game. The weather an penalties are what slowed Norcross down in the first have. There were many first downs taken away in the first half because of stupid penalties and many passes that were dropped. I was not worried going into the second half because I knew that it was a matter of time before the offense got moving and I knew that Etowah wasn’t going to produce anything offensively.

As I have said before, penalties will be the downfall of Norcross if they don’t get i together.