Photo: Karl L. Moore Dacula running back Marcus Cox (9) races past Norcross defenders Domonique Mason (82) and Kristopher Beauchamp (59) for a touchdown during Friday night's playoff game at Dacula.
DACULA -- Rocky Capobianco wasn't going to let this be his last football game.
The Dacula senior had runs where he carried the pile and made big hits on defense.
Capobianco made his biggest plays in the final minutes of Friday's first round Class AAAAA playoff game. The quarterback/running back threw a 38-yard pass to set up his own game-winning touchdown run with 12 seconds left. The score lifted Dacula to a 17-10 win over Norcross.
"I love football. I love Friday night lights," an emotional Capobianco said. "I love this town. I don't know what I would do if I wasn't playing football."
Capobianco secured Dacula at least one more game as it will host Newnan, which beat Valdosta, in next week's second round. It's the first time Dacula has won a playoff game since 2006.
"Our kids played their hearts out, their kids played their hearts out," Norcross head coach Keith Maloof said. "In big games like this it comes down to a few big plays."
The win over Norcross (8-3) was sweet revenge for Dacula after losing to the Blue Devils 35-7 in the season opener.
"I can't be more proud of our kids," first-year Dacula head coach Jared Zito said. "Our coaches did the best job. We've got the best coaching staff I've ever been around."
Dacula (8-3) was in a 10-10 tie late in the fourth quarter when its defense came up with a big fourth-down stop at its own 23. The Falcons used nearly a four-minute drive to finish off the game.
Marcus Cox caught a 15-yard screen pass and on the next play Capobianco hit Davian McEwan for a 38-yard pass to the Norcross 19. It was the only pass Capobianco completed all game, while McEwan had four catches for 65 yards.
"We took a shot with Rocky," Zito said. "Most people think he can only run."
The 5-foot-9 Capobianco had four straight rushes before finishing with a game-winning, five-yard touchdown run. Capobianco never left the game, starting on offense and at safety on defense. He finished the game with 75 yards on 22 carries and made six tackles.
"Rocky plays with heart all the time," Zito said.
Dacula was 0-for-2 on fourth-down conversions in first half. After the second big stop by the Blue Devils' defense, Norcross put together a drive all the way to the 5-yard line. An offsides penalty pushed the Blue Devils back to fourth-and-1 and Norcross had to settle for a 27-yard field goal attempt that was blocked by Juanye Roberts, who also had an interception in the game.
"That block was a big one," Zito said.
Dacula's Austin Volkmer recovered a Norcross fumble on the punt return, but the Falcons gave the ball right back. Cox fumbled and Lavonte' Cranford recovered at the Falcons' 24 to set up Norcross' first score.
Joseph Wilber had a 19-yard pass to Jason Coom to set up Alvin Kamara's five-yard touchdown run with 8:34 left in the half. Kamara finished with just 56 yards rushing, while Wilber had 43 on the ground and was 9 of 17 passing for 104 yards.
Dacula responded with nine straight running plays by Capobianco and Cox to the 10. A chop block penalty pushed the Falcons back and Dacula's McEwan kicked a 41-yard field goal to make it 7-3 with 3:59 in the half.
Dacula opened the second half with an eight-play 67-yard scoring drive. Cox scored on a 21-yard run to give the Falcons their first lead 10-7.
"We've struggled all year in the third quarter," Zito said. "We challenged our guys and said that was the drive of the season. They really stepped up at the right time."
Norcross responded with its own long scoring drive. Croom initially caught a touchdown, but the back judge ruled it incomplete. Chris Bingham kicked a 22-yard field goal with 2:20 left in the third quarter to tie it 10-10.
Croom had another touchdown catch on Norcross' next drive, but was called for pass interference and the Blue Devils had to punt. The Tennessee commitment finished with six catches for 69 yards.
Norcross put together one more scoring attempt, driving to the Dacula 17. After Wilber was sacked at the 23, the Blue Devils couldn't convert on fourth down. Morgan Loyd led the Dacula defense with eight tackles.
That gave Dacula the ball back with 4:06 and plenty of time for Capobianco to lead the Falcons to the biggest touchdown of his career.
"Rocky is the guy that makes them go," Maloof said.