SUWANEE - The Georgia Tech football team always seems to have a couple of Thursday night games on the schedule each season, so perhaps Collins Hill tailback Charles Perkins was just getting ready for 2010, when he joins the Yellow Jackets. His performance in Thursday's 37-0 win over Duluth was definitely worthy of prime time.
Perkins, the top rusher in Gwinnett County, carried 17 times for 130 yards and three touchdowns in the first half to lead the undefeated Eagles (6-0, 4-0) to the win. Perkins scored on runs of 3, 24 and 10 yards and didn't play the final two series of the second period or the second half.
Collins Hill quarterback Taylor Heinicke, who was banged up in the team's last game two weeks ago against North Forsyth, came back with a strong performance. The junior completed 6 of 11 passes for 97 yards and one touchdown, ran for one score, and didn't play the second half.
"I'm pleased we came out and executed," said Collins Hill coach Bill Wells. "When you have an off week you just hope you can execute and we did."
Duluth (1-5, 0-4) played gamely, especially on defense, but was no match for its opponent's size, strength or depth. Duluth's offense continued to struggle, with quarterbacks Anfronee Stewart and Alex Fragoso both struggling against the aggressive Eagles. The Collins Hill defense was never in danger of allowing points, as Duluth failed to effectively move the ball.
The outcome pleased Wells, whose team was coming off a bye. "I think we learned we can prepare and execute, even with a little less time to prepare," he said.
Collins Hill will get its first serious test of the season next week against state-ranked Peachtree Ridge.
"It ought to be a fun game," Wells said. "We're excited and we're looking forward to playing them. They've got a great team. That's why we compete so hard, so we can play in games like that."
The Thursday night game against Duluth came about because of the economically driven furloughs at Gwinnett County schools. The setting didn't seem to matter. The crowd was energized (having hundreds of kids from the local youth leagues present didn't hurt) and the home team didn't disappoint.
"It was strange from a feeling standpoint," Wells said. "The logistics were different. You had to make sure the field got painted a day early, make sure the stats man was going to be there, things like that."
As long as Perkins was able to be there, the Eagles were never in danger. He accounted for all the yardage on the first drive, grinding out 58 yards on five consecutive runs, the final 3 of them coming off the right side for a score.
He carried seven times on the next scoring drive, but Heinicke scored on a 1-yard keeper. Perkins then struck for a 24-yard TD on the first play after a Duluth turnover.