North topples Alabama power Prattville 14-11

SUWANEE - Considering the athleticism on both sides, most of the record 9,207 fans attending the finale to the 2009 Progressive Football Challenge between North Gwinnett and Prattville were probably expecting an offensive shootout.

What they got instead was a hard-fought defensive struggle until the fourth quarter,

But the host and No. 6 state-ranked Bulldogs had just enough offense, getting a pair of touchdown passes from C.J. Uzomah to Cody Gower to eke out a 14-11 upset of the nationally ranked Lions on Saturday night at Tom Robinson Memorial Stadium.

Neither team picked up a first down until Raahmil Brantley dove forward for a 3-yard gain near midfield on North's third possession in the final minute of the first quarter.

The Bulldogs' defense was particularly stifling, limiting the Lions to minus-4 total yards in the first half, including minus-6 on the ground.

Meanwhile, the North offense started getting cranked up in the second quarter.

After being stopped short on downs at the Prattville 33 early in the period, the Bulldogs didn't waste their next opportunity.

Uzomah led a 14-play, 72-yard drive with both his arm and his legs. The junior quarterback ran for 42 yards on five carries and completed two passes, including a 1-yard strike to Cody Gower with just 6.6 seconds left in the half to put the Bulldogs up 7-0 heading into intermission.

Prattville finally got its offense going on its second possession of the second half.

After not picking up a first down until the 7:04 mark of the third quarter, the Lions drove 38 yards in 12 plays before stalling and settling for a 27-yard field goal from Chris Kennedy, cutting North's lead to 7-3 with 4:30 left in the period.

But North took advantage two critical pass interference penalties - the latter on a third-and-14 play at the North 40 - to run some clock early in the fourth quarter.

The Bulldogs fully capitalized when Uzomah capped the eight-play, 63-yard drive with his second touchdoiwn pass of the night to Gower - this time, from 20 yards out - to push their lead to 14-3 with 9:07 to play.

Prattville answered with its biggest offensive production of the game, driving 80 yards in eight plays before Sam Gibson hit Will Jones for a 16-yard touchdown pass, and then connected with Earl Lucas for the two-point converstion to cut North's lead to 14-11 with 5:58 left.

North was able to run down all but the last 1:02 of the clock, and the Bulldogs sealed the deal by sacking Gibson on fourth down, the eighth sack of the night for North, with 5.6 seconds left.