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Norcross ekes out narrow win over Grayson

LOGANVILLE - Every football game has at least two or three big plays that decide the outcome. It's usually a big pass or run or maybe a fumble at a crucial time. Rarely is that big play decided in the first half on the point-after-touchdown, but that was the case Friday night.

Grayson (0-3) went for two instead of kicking the PAT and 10th-ranked Norcross (3-0) escaped with a 7-6 win.

"It's great to get out of here with a win," Norcross head coach Keith Maloof said. "That was a great game and a great night. I'll take the win. It was great defense from both sides."

On Grayson's second possession of the game, the Rams finally broke their nine-quarter scoreless streak in the closing seconds of the first half. Grayson used a six-play, 46 yard drive to set up Dalton Diehl's 10-yard TD pass to Decorja Canada in the flat for the score.

Grayson's field goal unit lined up to the left with a lone receiver alone on the right sideline. The Rams' holder, Greg Schatell, lofted a pass in the right corner of the end zone trying to sneak in a two-point conversion, but the pass was incomplete and the Rams were also flagged for an illegal procedure to make it 7-6 at the half.

"If they leave a guy open we throw it, but even if we would have caught it, it wouldn't have counted because of the illegal motion call," Grayson head coach Mickey Conn said. "It should have been an easy two points. If I could do it again, I wish we would have kicked it."

After Norcross' first drive of the game resulted in a Bryce Dykes interception, the Blue Devils didn't take long to score on their next possession. Dykes hit Darius Hanks for a 20-yard gain and then the senior hit Brice Butler for a 23-yard pass and a Norcross touchdown. Chris Tanner's PAT gave the Blue Devils a 7-0 lead with 1:53 left in first quarter.

On the ensuing kickoff, Grayson fumbled the return at the 25-yard line and Norcross recovered. Despite the great field position, the Blue Devils couldn't take advantage of it. The Grayson defense stiffened and Norcross had to settle for a 25-yard field goal attempt that was missed.

Two possessions later, Grayson scored its first points of the season and those would be the last points of the game as both defenses dominated the second half.

Both teams were able to manage long drives that ate up a lot of the clock, but neither offense was able to put the ball in the end zone.

In the fourth quarter, Norcross was able to drive to midfield, before a delay of game, false start and sack forced Norcross with a long field to work with and the Blue Devils eventually were forced to punt. A shanked punt gave Grayson the ball at its own 37 with 4:02 left in the game.

Grayson went three-and-out, but as Norcross tried to run out the clock, running back Demetrius Hill fumbled at the 47 and the Rams' James Boatright recovered, giving the Rams life again with 1:17 to play.

Grayson managed 25 yards but an illegal shift and fumble forced Grayson to attempt a 55-yard field goal with 29 seconds left in the game. Corey Hammontree's kick was blocked and recovered by Norcross to seal the win.

"He hit one in pregame and has a strong leg," Conn said. "It was fourth-and-forever and I thought that was our best shot."

Norcross came into the game as the county's No. 1 scoring offense, averaging 45 points a game and was held to its lowest total. Norcross finished with 213 yard of total offense, while Grayson managed 182.

"They're good on defense and we had our opportunities. It's all part of the game," Maloof said. "They played good defense and got after it. Bryce had a few bad passes and Darius dropped a few balls."

Dykes was 11 of 21, which included a stretch of seven consecutive incomplete passes, for 139 yards and Hanks hauled in five passes for 57 yards.

"I feel good about our team. We just held a team that was averaging 45 points to seven," Conn said. "Our defense is playing great, flying to the ball and are playing stingy defense."

Chandler Priest led Grayson on the ground with 13 carries for 65 yards and Diehl completed 4 of 5 passes for 35 yards.