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Ridge defense stands tall vs. Perkins

SUWANEE - This holds true most every week against Collins Hill. Stop Charles Perkins and a win will follow.

But that doesn't happen often.

The Georgia Tech commitment is big, fast and elusive. He makes the Eagles' offense click, despite getting a huge amount of attention each Friday from opposing defenses. The constant focus didn't keep Perkins from rolling up more than 1,000 yards at the season's halfway point, creating thoughts of a possible 2,000-yard regular season.

That quest took a big hit Friday night.

Peachtree Ridge shut down fellow Region 7-AAAAA unbeaten Collins Hill and Perkins, picking up a critical victory.

"I'm really proud of the way (the defense) stepped up and answered the challenge of trying to stop Perkins," Peachtree Ridge head coach Bill Ballard said. "I felt like our guys really answered that challenge on defense. He's tough to stop. He's a really good back."

But the Lions have a very good defense, too. And a very speedy one.

That helped them limit Perkins to 45 rushing yards on 17 carries, while sacks put Collins Hill's team rushing yardage at 32. The Eagles' star running back did his best work on receptions, grabbing two for 52 yards, including a splendid over-the-shoulder catch in the second half.

"Defensively, (Peachtree Ridge) has great team speed, that's a big asset for them," Collins Hill head coach Billy Wells said. "They do a tremendous job of bringing pressure. At the same time, they (bring pressure) in a safe manner."

It also helps to have two Division I cornerbacks in Brad Roby and Brian Williams. Sterling Jones and Juan Burnett also are impressive, making it dangerous to pass against the Lions.

But they're even tougher against the run. Tanner Botts, Eric Mitchell, Eric Odonkor and Twan Sandridge led the way in shutting that part of the Eagles' attack down.

Perkins really didn't have an opportunity to do much, spending much of his night dodging Peachtree Ridge defenders in the backfield.

That's a credit to the speed and talent of the Lions' defense, but also the coaching of Ballard, David Roman, Venson Elder, Matt Hollis and Bo Lumpkin. They lead a unit that accomplished its main mission, a rare one, on Friday - stopping Perkins.

"It was really just trying to get as many guys to the ball as you can against him," Ballard said.

Will Hammock can be reached via e-mail at will.hammock@gwinnettdailypost.com. His column appears on Thursdays.