SUWANEE - North Gwinnett quarterback C.J. Uzomah threw for three touchdowns and the defense came up big in the second half as the Bulldogs (7-0, 5-0) defeated Northview 24-7 Friday night in Region 7-AAAAA action at Tom Robinson Memorial Stadium.
"I want to tip my cap to Northview, they came ready to play," North coach Bob Sphire said. "We did not play like champions and it was a very sloppy game. I was embarrassed by the performance."
With University of Tennessee coaches Lane Kiffin and Ed Orgeron in attendance to watch North Gwinnett lineman, Ju'Wuan James, it was the Titans (2-5, 1-4) who came out inspired.
After forcing a punt on the Bulldogs' first possession, Northview needed only two plays to light up the scoreboard. On second down, the Titans' Kane Whithurst took the option pitch to the right and raced 47 yards for a touchdown. Tyler Chamberlin's PAT was good and with 9:59 left in the first quarter, Northview led 7-0.
Thanks to a 56-yard kickoff return by Cordero Dixon, North tried to answer with a 26-yard drive which culminated in a 34-yard field goal by the Bulldogs Jeff Hatley to cut the Northview lead to 7-3.
Northview came right back. Running a triple option offense which seemed to confuse the North defense, the Titans moved from their own 20 to the Bulldogs' 18 before the drive stalled. Chamberlin, who has hit on field goals of over 50 yards this season hooked the 35-yard attempt with a little over a minute left in the first quarter.
After the teams traded punts, North started on its own 27. Uzomah needed only three plays to reach the Northview 10. First the junior signal caller hit Dixon for 18 yards. Then Uzomah connected with Justin Dickens for 14. With the ball on the Titans' 41, the North quarterback completed a crossing pattern to Cody Gower who turned a 10 yard completion up the far sideline for an additional 21 yards after the catch.
After having one apparent touchdown waved off because of a holding call, Uzomah faced a third down on the Northview 9. Rolling to his left, he shifted the pocket back to the center of the field and stepped up and delivered a strike to Dixon who stripped the ball away from the defensive back in the shadow of the goal posts. Hatley converted the PAT and North led 10-7.
There was no quit in the Titans. With 8:09 left in the half, Northview began to march, though it seemed they would be stopped before the drive could yield any points. Facing a fourth-and-1 on their own 35, coach Jim Showfety dialed up the direct snap to up back Zack Cable, who ran to the right for 5 yards and a first down. Using an assortment of runs and one pass to cross up the Bulldogs' defense, Northview reached the Bulldogs' 10 when the drive stalled. With the clock running and the Titans out of timeouts, Chamberlin's bid to tie the game was blocked by Eric Wright as the first half ended.
In the first half, Northview outgained the Region 7-AAAAA leaders 165-122 and rushed for 105 yards to North's 27.
The Bulldogs defense stepped up in the second half. Northview gained only 12 yards on 22 plays, while North opened up some breathing room.
Uzomah connected on a 4 yard scoring strike to Raahmil Brantley early in the third quarter. Brantley was open in the right flat and after the short dump off, the North running back raced to the end zone untouched. Harltey's PAT widened the Bulldogs lead to 17-7 with 8:38 left in the third quarter.
North locked up the game with 3:56 remaining when Uzomah hooked up with Joe Jones on a 27 yard touchdown pass.