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Poole, Norcross finish off victory

DACULA -- Norcross quarterback Matt Poole wasted little time proving he's fully recovered from a shoulder injury that sidelined him all of last season.

With three touchdown passes in the first half, the Blue Devils senior propelled Norcross past Dacula 21-12 in both teams' season opener that began Friday night and resumed Saturday because of inclement weather.

Poole staked Norcross to a 7-0 lead with a 16-yard pass to Bradley Coleman in the opening quarter Friday, then a 14-6 advantage on an 11-yard toss to J.T. Tolbert in the second, before heavy rain and lightning created a two hour-plus delay and ultimate postponement to Saturday.

When action resumed with Norcross in possession of the football 4:46 before halftime, Poole readily picked up where he left off. After handing off four times, he targeted Coleman deep down the right sideline for a 40-yard touchdown that sent the Devils (1-0) into the locker room ahead at intermission 21-6.

"We work on that (play) every chance we get," Coleman said. "He put it right there and made it really easy for me."

Poole, whose junior season was scrapped a week before Game 1, was glad to win Region 7-AAAAA Norcross' first meeting with Region 8-AAAAA Dacula since 2005 and halt a three-game losing streak to the Falcons (0-1).

"It was emotional to win, to get out there and execute the first time out," he said. "Coach said to go home (Friday), but stay focused and know you still have something to finish when you come back."

Norcross coach Keith Maloof considered the win a vital first stride toward atoning for last year's frustrating 5-5 season. He felt his Devils did many things well, though they allowed Dacula touchdowns on Davian McEwan's 69-yard reception Friday and Marcus Cox's 86-yard run Saturday.

"Other than those two big plays, we pretty much held them at bay," Maloof said. "That (pass) was a breakdown in coverage and that (run) was an over-pursuit -- both things that can be fixed."

Billed as the Maloof Bowl, the win was also an emotional one for the Norcross coach, who beat his brother, Kevin, the coach at Dacula.

Keith Maloof said coming out strong Saturday, following the overnight layoff, was important.

"(Scoring on) that first drive (Saturday) was the ballgame," he said. "All that adversity -- going home, laying around, and then coming back -- was hard. That opening drive (Saturday) was key."