Staff Photo: Jason Braverman North Gwinnett celebrates a 2-point conversion to tie the game late in the fourth quarter of Friday's game against Norcross. The Bulldogs came back from 22-points down to beat the Blue Devils 29-22.
North vs. Norcross highlights
Highlights from North Gwinnett's 29-22 win over Norcross on Oct. 7, 2011.
NORCROSS -- The old Joe Jones would have let a fumble bother him.
The North Gwinnett running back didn't let it phase him on Friday night.
Jones had a third-quarter turnover, but responded with two fourth-quarter touchdowns in the No. 7 Bulldogs' 29-22 comeback win over No. 9 Norcross.
"I wanted it real bad," Jones said of the game-winning score.
North trailed 22-0 in the third quarter, but scored 29 unanswered points to win its 18th straight Region 7-AAAAA game. The comeback featured a 20-minute delay in the final minutes when the lights on the home side of Norcross' stadium went out.
"I've been doing this for 31 years and that's as good at it gets in a rivalry game like this," North head coach Bob Sphire said.
The win puts North (5-1, 3-0 region), the two-time defending region champ, in a tie for first place in Region 7 with Peachtree Ridge. The two teams will meet in the season finale.
Despite the 22-0 deficit, the defense played very well for North. The Bulldogs' defense only allowed one score on an 81-yard touchdown catch by Anthony Autry. The other scores came on special teams and a fumble returned for a touchdown.
"Our defense, my gosh, they had reason to quit," Sphire said. "They never did. They only gave up one score to a really good football team."
Preston Green led the defense with a blocked field goal, a fumble recovery and a sack at the end of the game.
"I think this was the most exciting game 95 percent of us have ever played in, including myself," Green said.
Norcoss pushed its lead to 22-0 to start the second half when North fumbled a handoff and Martavius Edwards picked it up for a 52-yard touchdown.
Norcross was driving for another score when Joseph Wilber was intercepted by Bobby Young. The turnover shifted the momentum in the Bulldogs' favor.
"I thought that was the turning point in the game," Sphire said. "It would have been difficult to overcome another score. Our offense finally did something."
Scotty Hosch guided North on an 85-yard drive and finished with a one-yard score. Hosch was 21 of 31 for 198 yards. Chad Scott caught seven passes for 78 yards.
The defense added the next score when Justin Thomas picked up an Alvin Kamara fumble and went 16 yards for the touchdown.
North continued its comeback with Jones' two-yard touchdown run. The Bulldogs tied the game when Hosch's two-point conversion to Alex Boyd was tipped out of his hands and landed in Russell King's hands to tie the game 22-22 with 2:09 left.
Wilber then was intercepted for the second time at midfield by Donnie Miles. After Jones picked up a first down to the 37, the lights went out on the home side of the stadium and promted a 20-minute delay in the game.
When the lights came back on, Scott picked up a pass interference call to put the ball at the 13. Jones scored his second TD to seal the game.
"He's been a workhorse for us," Sphire said.
Norcross (5-1, 2-1 region) scored on it second possession of the game when Autry had an 81-yard touchdown catch from Wilber. North's Justin Alabi blocked the PAT to give the Blue Devils an early 6-0 lead. Wilber was 12 of 21 for 233 yards.
Norcross added a 21-yard field goal by Chris Bingham on its second possession and Myles Autry returned a punt 52 yards for a touchdown to put Norcross ahead 16-0 at halftime.