By Robert Haddocks
The Norcross defense turned in yet another dominant performance as the Blue Devils rolled past Lowndes, 28-7, to advance to the state semifinals for the second consecutive year.
The Blue Devils took advantage of five Vikings’ turnovers while holding their vaunted running attack to 91 yards. Norcross, 11-2, is one game away from the chance to defend its Class AAAAAA championship. “If we keep playing like this, no one can get in our way but ourselves” said defensive end Lorenzo Carter, the state’s No. 1 prospect. The Blue Devils will host Colquitt County on Friday.
Norcross, which has held all three of its playoff opponents under 10 points, is playing some of their best football at the right time, coach Keith Maloof said. They’ve limited teams to single digits in seven of their last nine games. “They’ve been great all year, but they’ve really hunkered down and are playing how they know how to play. If we take advantage of other people’s mistakes like we did tonight we’re in good shape.”
Jordan Noil and Jaquan Frazier had interceptions for the Blue Devils and Lorenzo Carter recovered a fumble. Already up 14-0, Norcross forced a fumble on the Vikings’ second play of third quarter. Six plays later, A.J. Bush scrambled 17 yards and dove into the end zone for a 21-0 lead. Bush later threw a 30-yard touchdown toss to Maaseiah Francis to expand the lead to 28-0 as Norcross notched its 10th straight victory.
Carter said Maloof preached “discipline and sacrifice” all week and everybody bought in. “This is the time of the year that you want to be getting better and I think we’re doing that,” said Carter, who tangled with Dyshon Sims, the state’s top offensive lineman who is headed to Georgia.
Norcross dominated from the start and took a 14-0 lead into halftime. The Vikings (9-4), who were coming off of a 300-yard rushing performance in their win over Lovejoy, were held to 38 rushing yards in the half. Norcross hadn’t faced a Wing-T all season, but the tricky misdirection offense never fooled the Blue Devils. The Blue Devils repeatedly stood up and pushed back the Vikings, who managed three first downs in the half, one via penalty.
The Blue Devils took a 7-0 lead late in the first quarter when tight end Marques Solomon uncovered in the end zone and caught an 11-yard pass from A.J. Boyd. After an interception and 50-yard return by Jordan Noil, Josh Boyd padded the Norcross lead with a 10-yard touchdown run with six minutes left in the half. Boyd finished with a game-high 65 yards on 20 carries.
Lowndes, the five-time state champions, have been ousted from the playoffs four of the last six seasons by a Gwinnett team.
NORCROSS – 7 – 7 – 14 – 0 – 28
LOWNDES – 0 – 0 – 7 – 0 – 7
N – Marques Solomon 11 pass from A.J. Bush (Blake Bingham kick)
N – Josh Boyd 10 run (Bingham kick)
N – A.J. Bush 17 run (Bingham kick) j
N – Maaseiah Francis 30 pass from Bush (Bingham kick)
L – Malik Roberts 62 pass from Austin Dixon (Nick Hart kick)