SUWANEE - After its disappointing loss last week to Peachtree Ridge, Norcross felt it had something to prove Friday night.
Behind a punishing defense coupled with the bruising running of D.J. Adams, Norcross took away any hopes Collins Hill had of hosting a playoff game next week with a 17-3 road win over the Eagles.
The Norcross win, in conjunction with the Peachtree Ridge win over North Gwinnett, set the the Blue Devils up as the No. 3 seed in Region 7-AAAAA and a first-round playoff game at Parkview next week. Collins Hill, the region's fourth seed, travels to play Region 8-AAAAA winner Grayson.
"We had to prove to ourselves that we could do the things we needed to do on both offense and defense," Norcross head coach Keith Maloof said. "Last week hurt us really bad but I've said all along this is a mature group and they did what they needed to do to get ready."
Maryland-bound Adams handled the bulk of the load on offense for Norcross (8-2, 6-2) by carrying the ball 28 times for 149 yards, upping his season total to 1,340 yards. Quarterback Charles King also did a good job of managing the game by hitting on 7 of 17 attempts for 103 yards and one TD pass.
"Being a big game like tonight, we talked about not giving up the big play and not turning the ball over," Collins Hill head coach Billy Wells said. "We did both of those tonight. We also talked about how certain teams will be home next week while we still have a lot to play for.
"There were some lessons to be learned tonight."
The first of those lessons came with 8:51 left in the second quarter. Already trailing 3-0 after a 21-yard field goal by Conner Hawk late in the first, the Eagles were forced to punt on their first possession of the second quarter after the drive stalled on five plays.
Danal Slay of Norcross took the Chris Caspari kick and scampered from his 26 all the way to the Eagle 23. Two plays later, King ran up the middle on a quarterback draw from 10 yards out for the TD. Hawk's PAT took the lead to 10-0, a margin the Blue Devils held at the half.
The Eagle defense stirred to life on the first play of the third quarter when Jimmy Bayer ripped the ball away from a Norcross ball carrier for a turnover at the Norcross 30-yard line.
That drive, however, ended with a turnover on downs and Norcross answered with a nine-play, 60-yard drive that culminated in a TD on 7-yard scoring pass from King to Geremy Davis for a 17-0 lead with 5:13 left in the third.
The Eagles finally got the offense going on the ensuing possession, going from its 19 all the way to the Norcross 5-yard line, but once again, the Norcross defense stiffened and surrendered just three points on a 24-yard field goal from Craig Tanguay.
"When we went on the field tonight, all the frustration we had, we released on the Eagles tonight," Norcross defensive lineman Wesley Hollingshed said. "A lot of our ball players are stepping big with more and more leaders."
Charles Perkins, who rushed for 212 yards last week in the Eagles' win over South Forsyth, was held to just 53 yards on 21 carries while Connecticut commit Michael Box completed 10 of 17 passes for 100 yards with one interception.