SUWANEE - The trademark of Norcross' potent offense is how many varied weapons it features, and that diversity was on display in Friday night's Region 7-AAAAA football clash at Collins Hill.
Four different players found the end zone, including running back D.J. Adams, who ran for 218 yards on 19 carries to help lift the sixth-ranked Blue Devils to a 31-21 victory at Fahring Field.
The win sets Norcross (8-1, 6-1) up for next week's winner-take-all battle for the region title with No. 2 North Gwinnett, though it had to hold off a gutsy effort this week by Collins Hill (3-6, 3-4), which made the game a lot closer than the final score.
"They always do that," Norcross coach Keith Maloof said of the Eagles. "They've battled us and battled us and battled us over the years. We just had to counter that, and in the second half, we played really hard, and our defense really stepped it up.
"The glory of our offense is that if the passing game is not working, we can give it to D.J. ... He was our big-play guy (Friday) night, and I'm extremely proud of the way he and our line executed up front."
That execution was on display on Norcross' first offensive snap of the game as Adams burst through a gaping hole in the middle and darted 79 yards for a score that put the Blue Devils in front 7-0 just 2:09 after the opening kickoff.
From that point, the defenses pretty much dominated the rest of the half, especially Collins Hill's.
The Eagles held Norcross to just a 26-yard Chris Tanner field goal the remainder of the half and Mike Adams' interception and 34-yard return set up Charles Perkins, who had all five carries on the ensuing 25-yard drive before scoring from a yard out with 8:59 left in the half pull Collins Hill to within 10-7 at intermission.
Perkins - who was Collins Hill's workhorse on the evening with 149 yards on 30 carries - then laid the ground work on a third-quarter drive with runs of 18 and 29 yards before Brad Wood dove in from 2 yards out to vault the Eagles into a 14-10 lead with 1:51 left in the third quarter.
"We're a good football team," Collins Hill coach Larry Sherrill said. "We've fought hard every game. We came in the idea we were going to win this football game. We drove the ball down about 85 yards to take the lead, but then they hit us with the big play."
Once again, that big play was provided by Adams. This time, the junior tailback took the second snap after Collins Hill's score and sprinted 66 yards before being forced out of bounds at the Eagles' 7.
A 15-yard penalty was assessed when Maloof was flagged for being out on the field following the run.
However, the Blue Devils still found the end zone three plays later when Nick Sorel hooked up with Brice Butler on a 9-yard scoring strike to put Norcross back in front 17-14 with 48 seconds left in the period.
With the lead at 24-14 after Sorel's 1-yard sneak midway through the fourth quarter, Norcross looked like it had put the game away on Tyler Maloof's 51-yard punt return for a score with 4:25 remaining.
Collins Hill answered with Rashad Head's 93-yard scoring return of the ensuing kickoff to pull to within 31-21 with 4:12 left.
But Norcross recovered the ensuing onside kick and ran off the remaining time to preserve the win.
Collins Hill 21
Norcross: D.J. Adams 79 run (Chris Tanner kick) 9:51
Norcross: Tanner 26 FG, 11:43
Collins Hill: Charles Perkins 1 run (Sean Binner kick), 8:59
Collins Hill: Brad Wood 2 run (Binner kick), 1:51
Norcross: Brice Butler 9 pass from Nick Sorel (Tanner kick), 0:48
Norcross: Sorel 1 run (Tanner kick) 5:46
Norcross: Tyler Maloof 51 punt return (Tanner kick) 4:25
Collins Hill: Rashad Head 93 kickoff return (Binner kick) 4:12
Rushing - Norcross: Adams 19-218, Andrew Prater 4-11, Butler 1-9, Sorel
4-8, Charles King 2-6, Alex Napper 1-(-4). Collins Hill: Perkins 30-149,
Wood 2-7, Josh Sneed 1-3, Kevin Broderick 1-2, Chris Caspari 1-(-4),
Brent McDonald 3-(-21).
Passing - Norcross: Sorel 9-15-1 116, King 1-1-0 1. Collins Hill:
McDonald 3-10-2 23, Caspari 0-2-0 0, Perkins 0-1-0 0.
Receiving - Norcross: Butler 4-58, Devonta Bolton 2-39, Adams 2-1,
Napper 1-12, Prince Kent 1-9. Collins Hill: Perkins 2-9, Wood 1-14.