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Offenses off to slow start in Corky Kell

Staff Photo: John Bohn North Gwinnett receiver Chad Scott (6) scores his second touchdown during the first half as McEachern defensive back Cameron Gamble (20) can not stop Scott from crossing the end zone line. North Gwinnett played McEachern during the Corky Kell Classic at the Georgia Dome on Saturday.

Staff Photo: John Bohn North Gwinnett receiver Chad Scott (6) scores his second touchdown during the first half as McEachern defensive back Cameron Gamble (20) can not stop Scott from crossing the end zone line. North Gwinnett played McEachern during the Corky Kell Classic at the Georgia Dome on Saturday.

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Staff Photo: John Bohn Brookwood linebacker Eric Mapoles (36) and defensive back Zach Jackson (45) tackle Lassiter runningback Isiah Willis (25) as they play the second game of the Corky Kell Classic at the Georgia Dome on Saturday.

ATLANTA -- Mickey Conn was the only Gwinnett head football coach to leave Saturday's Corky Kell Classic a winner, but he was in the same situation as the other three local teams in at least one regard.

His defense was ahead of his offense in the season opener.

Points were hard to come by for Gwinnett over the weekend in an uncharacteristic showing by the county, which lost three of four games in the annual showcase to rival Cobb County.

Conn's team won the day's first game with a stout defense, 7-0 over Kell. The Rams' lone scoring drive was a 5-yarder after Kell fumbled a punt.

Brookwood was mistake-prone on offense in the second game, falling 14-6 to Lassiter, a far cry from how the Broncos finished last season in the Georgia Dome -- a 52-point outburst in a state championship game win.

North scored 17 points, but never added to a first-half lead and put constant pressure on the defense to hold the lead. The Bulldogs did cling to that edge until McEachern scored the game-winning touchdown with 10 seconds left.

In the four games this past Sunday, Gwinnett scored just 44 total points.

"I thought our defense played really well," North head coach Bob Sphire said. "A few times we gave (McEachern) great field position and the defense bowed their necks. I'll say this, our defense gave us every opportunity to win that football game."

The same could be said for the nightcap as Peachtree Ridge held Walton in check most of the night, but couldn't put any points on the board. But the Lions were hardly alone as the county's offenses got off to sluggish starts, while the defenses looked to be in better shape.

For Grayson, Brookwood, North and Peachtree Ridge, penalties and other miscues were bigger problems than turnovers. However, there were a few of those as well.

"We hurt ourselves a few times in the second and third quarter with a few penalties," Sphire said. "We fumbled the ball in the first half when we were getting a little momentum there. We shot ourselves in the foot a little bit there."

On the flip side, Gwinnett defenses didn't allow much, either, on Saturday. All four coaches left the Dome feeling good about that side of the ball.

"We knew it was going to be a defensive battle this week, and it was," Conn said.

Brookwood and Peachtree Ridge get this week off to work out the kinks on offense, but Grayson and North aren't as fortunate as both are involved in the Bulldogs' Progressive Football Challenge. Grayson plays Edgewater (Fla.) Saturday in the annual showcase followed by North vs. East St. Louis (Ill.) in the nightcap.