NORCROSS - The top seed from Region 7-AAAAA for the state playoffs will likely be on the line when Norcross hosts top-ranked North Gwinnett on Nov. 9.
Of course, the Blue Devils will have to win first at Collins Hill next weekend.
A better offensive performance than Norcross showed in the first half against Forsyth Central on Friday night may be needed.
Leading by just a touchdown at halftime, fifth-ranked Norcross (5-1 in the region, 7-1 overall) came alive after intermission to rip Forsyth Central 31-0 on homecoming at Blue Devil Stadium.
"The defense played great and we knew the offense would eventually get going," coach Keith Maloof said.
It did, thanks to D.J. Adams.
With the passing attack held in check, Adams scored three touchdowns and rushed for 149 yards - 131 of them after intermission.
"D.J. took over in the second half," Maloof said.
After scoring on a 10-yard run for Norcross' only touchdown in the first half, the junior tailback had a 27-yard TD scamper in the third quarter and a 1-yard plunge in the fourth. He also had runs of 26 and 32 yards in the second half.
"The game was a lot closer than we expected in the first half," Adams said. "We knew at halftime that we had to pick it up."
But the Norcross defense came to play right from the start in recording the Blue Devils' second shutout of the season.
Forsyth Central (1-5, 2-6) had just five first downs and two of them came in the closing minutes against the Norcross reserves. The Bulldogs had negative yardage in the second half.
"We played as well as we have all year on defense," Maloof said.
"The team really wanted that zero and we got it," defensive back Alex Napper said.
With junior defensive end Matt Autry leading the charge, the Bulldogs had play after play go for lost yardage.
"The defensive line and inside linebackers played very well," Maloof said.
Eventually, the offense also got going.
With Charles King subbing for starter Nick Sorel at quarterback to start the third quarter, Norcross raced 80 yards in just six plays to score after the second-half kickoff and the rout was soon on. Adams and Trey Wallace each had 26-yard runs on the drive, which Wallace concluded with a 9-yard touchdown.
Chris Tanner kicked a 42-yard field goal after a Forsyth Central fumble shortly afterward and then Adams had his 26-yard touchdown run to make it 24-0 after three quarters.
Adams, who had 17 carries, added his 1-yard TD run midway in the fourth and then Norcross turned the game over to reserves.
The Blue Devils finished with 290 net yards rushing despite the sluggish first half. Wallace had 55 yards on five carries and Arius Wright had a 45-yard dash late in the game.
The offensive onslaught was a complete reversal from the first half. The Blue Devils' only touchdown before intermission came after a fumbled punt snap, with Autry tackling punter Brian Calhoun at the 18-yard line less than midway through the first quarter.
Sorel scrambled for 22 yards in the first half, but was just 4 of 11 passing and threw an interception in Forsyth Central territory. He finished 7-for-15 for 69 yards, while King was 1-for-5 for minus-4 yards.
When you have receivers like Brice Butler and Devonta Bolton, Norcross expects to do better than that.
"With the way our defense is playing, we have a chance against anyone," Maloof said. "But it would be nice to have the defense and offense both playing well together."
Even with unbeaten North Gwinnett looming in the regular season finale, the Blue Devils insist that they won't be looking past Collins Hill next Friday.
Norcross finished unbeaten in 7-AAAAA last season, but had to go three overtimes before edging Collins Hill 39-37 on a field goal by Tanner.
"Collins Hill always plays us tough," Maloof said.
"We know that we can't look ahead," Adams said. "All we're thinking about now is Collins Hill."
FORSYTH CENTRAL 0
Norcross: D.J. Adams 10 run (Chris Tanner kick) 7:07
Norcross: Trey Wallace 9 run (Tanner kick) 9:47
Norcross: Tanner 42 FG 7:38
Norcross: Adams 27 run (Tanner kick) :50
Norcross: Adams 1 run (Tanner kick) 6:07