North Gwinnett 34, Duluth 0

DULUTH - Cordero Dixon went this way and that, heading in the wrong direction for what seemed like way too long.

When the North Gwinnett speedster finally found an opening, though, there was no way Duluth was going to catch him.

Officially, it was a 53-yard punt return. But Dixon's touchdown jaunt in the second quarter covered a lot more yardage than that.

"I was just running," the senior wide receiver said.

Although North Gwinnett didn't look that much like Class AAAAA's No. 3 team at times, the visiting Bulldogs did enough right to beat Duluth 34-0 on Friday night at soggy Cecil Morris Field.

North Gwinnett committed penalty after penalty and played without starting quarterback C.J. Uzomah while going to 9-0 overall and 7-0 in Region 7-AAAAA.

"Sloppy wasn't it?" Bulldogs coach Bob Sphire said. "But we played like this here two years and went to the state championship game."

The region title and playoff seeding will be at stake next Friday when the Bulldogs host No. 8 Peachtree Ridge (8-1, 7-0).

Asked if Uzomah would be available to play in the region showdown, Spire said, "I don't know."

Scott Hosch, a sophomore, filled in for the junior quarterback against Duluth, passing for a touchdown and running for two more.

Hosch hit a wide open Justin Dickens for a 41-yard score in the first quarter after Duluth (0-7, 1-8) had held North Gwinnett without a first down on the Bulldogs' first two possessions.

Dixon's punt return came early in the second quarter, then Hosch scored on runs of 2 yards and 1 yard to make it 28-0 at halftime. The TD in the closing seconds before intermissions was set up by Dixon's leaping catch.

One of North Gwinnett's many penalties wiped off an 89-yard TD pass by Hosch in the third quarter before Joe Jones completed the scoring with a 21-yard TD run in the fourth quarter for the Bulldogs.

Josh Styles and Nyeem Greenwood recovered second-half fumbles for Duluth in North Gwinnett territory, but the Wildcats couldn't get a first down either time.

Duluth, which concludes its season next Friday at Chattahoochee, had just three first downs and one came on a North Gwinnett penalty.

Although Dixon had his return for a TD, one of Duluth's bright spots on the gloomy night was punter Daniel Starovasnik. He was outstanding all game, the highlight a booming 68-yard kick.