HOSCHTON - Mill Creek plugged away with some long, mostly fruitless drives Friday night, finishing with 76 offensive plays to Norcross' 42.
And that advantage didn't matter a bit.
Norcross reeled off four touchdowns of 50-plus yards, including three long runs from the tailback tandem of Delino DeShields and Kendrix Huitt, for a 31-7 victory over the host Hawks.
The big plays helped Norcross bury the memories an 0-2 start by winning its Region 7-AAAAA opener in impressive fashion. The Blue Devils' defense, which allowed 855 yards in the opening two losses, stepped up and held Mill Creek scoreless until the fourth quarter. It even scored the team's final TD on Deejay Shane's 55-yard interception return.
The effort was more in line with the tradition Norcross has built in recent seasons as perennial 7-AAAAA title contender.
"Those kids, I knew the whole time, they would respond," Norcross head coach Keith Maloof said. "They hurt and they hurt (after those first two losses). We worked them hard with the off week, it's probably the most physical we've ever been in practice because we had to get tougher."
The more physical play up front on offense was a huge benefit to Norcross' speedy tailbacks, both of whom used their sub-4.5-second 40-yard dash times for blazing TD runs.
Huitt accounted for the first half's only points on a 69-yard TD run on the Blue Devils' second play. It took just one play in the second half for what looked like an instant replay, this time with DeShields scoring on a 68-yard run.
A 39-yard run from DeShields set up a 24-yard Connor Hawk field goal, giving Norcross a 17-0 lead after three quarters.
Mill Creek (1-2, 0-1) answered with a 12-play, 80-yard drive behind John Russ (201 total yards) and Keyshawn Bussey, who capped the drive with a 4-yard TD run.
But Norcross put the game away with slightly more than four minutes left on DeShields' 51-yard scoring run.
DeShields, the son of former major league infielder Delino DeShields, finished with 153 yards on 11 carries and Huitt had 134 yards on nine carries.
Shane's 55-yard interception TD didn't matter to the outcome, but just added an enjoyable ending to Norcross' first win of the season. The defense made its share of plays, led by 6-foot-7 basketball standout Adrian Hubbard, who had a game-high three sacks and a tackle for a loss.
"It was fun, real fun," said DeShields, a senior who had his first breakout game with Norcross after transferring over the summer from Woodward Academy. "We started off slow this season, but we came back today. We showed everybody what we can do."