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Prep football notes: Crews shows faith in defense in first-round win

Photo: David McGregor Grayson's Devin Gillespie (14) runs past Collins Hill linebacker Chris Madkins (37) during the first half of Friday's game. 

Photo: David McGregor Grayson's Devin Gillespie (14) runs past Collins Hill linebacker Chris Madkins (37) during the first half of Friday's game. 

When Brookwood scored the game-tying TD with 47 seconds left Friday night in an eventual 30-27 win over Peachtree Ridge, a few people wondered if the visitors would go for a two-point conversion and the lead.

Instead, head coach Mark Crews opted to send Brandon Morrow on for the extra point that forced overtime. The Broncos had a tired defense that gave up 365 rushing yards (302 to Di Andre Atwater), but the coach took his chances that he could get defensive stops in OT.

"I never thought about (going for two)," Crews said. "You don't lose the game there. You make them beat you."

The strategy worked out well. Brookwood's defense got back-to-back sacks that kept Peachtree Ridge from getting anywhere close to a field goal try at the end of regulation. Then it pushed the Lions back and forced a field goal in the first OT, which allowed the offense to win it in the first OT on B.J. Sammon's 8-yard TD run.

Lions show fight

After a disappointing effort in the season finale vs. North Gwinnett (a 28-0 loss), Peachtree Ridge bounced back in the playoff opener.

The Lions lost in overtime to Brookwood, but did everything but win the game. Two early turnovers created a 17-0 deficit that Atwater's big rushing night erased and the Peachtree Ridge defense held the Broncos to 38 rushing yards on 24 carries.

"The kids played hard and they came back from the loss last week well," Lions head coach Mark Fleetwood said. "The kids played good. I'm proud of these seniors. To finish 8-3 was good. We lost to three good teams. This is a group of kids I won't forget."

Running Rams

Mickey Conn went out of his way following Friday's win to credit the efforts of his offense.

After a complete domination of an injury-ravaged Collins Hill, the first unit Conn praised was his offense.

"I am really proud of the performance of our offense and the way they were able to move the ball," the Grayson head coach said.

And like Grayson is apt to do, it come mostly on the ground. But there was no one person, it seemed every running back got in the action. The Rams rushed for 271 yards and no rusher had more than 58. In all, eight different Grayson players carried the ball. Only one, leading rusher Wayne Gallman, had double-digit carrie. His night ended at 10.

Conn gave much of the credit to quarterback Nick Schuessler, who checked the team into the correct plays at the line of scrimmage.

"Up front is where it was one," Conn said. "I am glad we were able to run the ball the way we did."

Answering the challenge

North Gwinnett coach Bob Sphire's challenge to Scotty Hosch coming into Friday night's first-round Class AAAAA state playoff game with Archer might seem a bit much to ask for even the best high school quarterback.

"When we talked this week and we prepared, I told him I expected him to go 24-for-28 (Friday) night," Sphire said wryly. "He outdid me."

Indeed, the 6-foot-3, 195-pound senior was more than up to Sphire's challenge, completing his first 21 passes on his way to a 25-for-27 night for 252 yards and three touchdowns in the Bulldogs' 49-3 win over the Tigers.

Hosch could only laugh when asked about the gauntlet Sphire had thrown down, but he said his big passing night -- following two weeks in which the running game had dominated North's offensive output -- was just a function of taking advantage of opportunities presented by Archer's defensive alignment.

"We talked all week about taking what they (Archer) give us," Hosch said. "They left some open areas, and the receivers just kept making plays on the ball."

Dacula defensive turnaround

Dacula's defense took a beating in the first two games of the season, surrendering 70 points.

Half of those points came in the season opening 35-7 loss to Norcross.

It's been quite a turnaround for the unit after 10 games. In Friday's second-round rematch against the Blue Devils, Dacula held Norcross to just 10 points and 238 yards of total offense. It was well below the Blue Devils' average of 37 points and 383 yards a game.

"Our defensive staff, they are the best defensive coaches I've been around," first-year Dacula head coach Jared Zito said. "They had our guys prepared and we've gotten better all year. It's a credit to them and our kids buying in and just playing all out football. It was physical, defensive football."

Dacula got a blocked field goal from and interception by Juanye Roberts to lead the defensive effort. The corner back was matched up with Norcross' 6-foot-5, 215-pound Jason Croom, who is committed to Tennessee.

"My hat is off the Juanye Roberts. We matched him up all night on Croom. We haven't done that all year," Zito said. "We challenged him and said here's a guy that's going to play in the SEC and it's time to set up. He rose to the challenge. He made great plays and just battled all night."

Field goal gives Archer a leg up

On the surface, Zach Wachholz's 27-yard field goal with 2:34 remaining seemed merely a way for Archer to save some face in the lopsided loss to North.

But coach Andy Dyer believes that ending the school's first postseason appearance on a positive note could pay dividends in future playoff games for the Tigers.

"I thought it was good (for the team)," Dyer said. "Zach is such a super kicker and he does a great job for us. And It was a big deal for our kids just to get some points on the board there."

-- Sports Editor Will Hammock and staff writers Brandon Brigman, Ben Beitzel and David Friedlander contributed to this report.