Photo: Karl L. Moore Peachtree Ridge's Myron Burton (22) slides by Norcross' Domonique Mason (82) for a long gain during Friday night's game at Peachtree Ridge.
Photo: Karl L. Moore Peachtree Ridge's Diandre Atwater (27) slips out of the tackle of Norcross' Isaiah Hinsley (50) during Friday night's game at Peachtree Ridge.
Photo: Karl L. Moore Norcross' Joseph Wilber (7) tries to turn upfield through the tackle Peachtree Ridge's Sean Eben (57) and Denzel Ozieh (88) during Friday night's game at Peachtree Ridge.
* Additional Game Action Photos
SUWANEE -- Joe Horn knew it was coming all week.
Peachtree Ridge's first offensive play Friday night was scripted for a post pattern to the junior wide receiver, who eagerly awaited the moment. Things went just as planned when Horn caught a perfect pass from Billy Best and sprinted in for a 76-yard touchdown, setting the tone for a dominating effort by the Lions in a 41-14 blowout win over Norcross.
"Coach told me all week to be ready, we were running post on the first play," said Horn, the son of the former NFL receiver by the same name. "(Best) threw a great pass and I was glad it worked. It got the fans and our team into the game."
Nearly everything clicked for the hosts in the Region 7-AAAAA showdown, turning what was expected to be a close game into one with a fourth-quarter running clock, thanks to Peachtree Ridge's 41-7 lead after three quarters.
Best threw for a career-high 286 yards, 224 in the first half alone as the Lions took a 27-7 lead into halftime. Horn caught four of the quarterback's 10 completions for 166 yards and a pair of TDs.
When those two weren't shredding the Norcross defense, running back Diandre Atwater was churning out yards. He rushed for 86 yards and three TDS on only 12 carries and also caught three passes for 56 yards.
"I'd have to say it was our best (game of the season)," first-year Peachtree Ridge head coach Mark Fleetwood said. "We played good on offense, defense and special teams. ... The defense played really good. My hat's off to Coach (Matt) Hollis and the staff. They did a great job."
Norcross' Alvin Kamara rushed for 122 yards, but 70 came on an early run. All three of his second-half carries went for losses. Blue Devils starting quarterback Joseph Wilber threw for only 25 yards and was intercepted twice by Ray Buchanan and Alex Gray. Darian Pogman also had a sack and a tackle for the Lions' defense.
Kamara's 70-yard run set up Myles Autry's 5-yard TD run in the first quarter, but Peachtree Ridge (6-1, 4-0) reeled off the next 41 points, including 21 in the second quarter. Atwater scored all three of his TDs in that quarter, which was capped by a Drew Moody blocked punt for a safety.
Norcross' Kristopher Beauchamp recovered a fumble and Martavius Edwards intercepted a pass to end the Lions' first two drives of the second half, but the offense couldn't reward the Blue Devils (5-2, 2-2) with a first down on either possession. The visitors didn't get a second-half first down until six minutes were left in the quarter quarter against the Peachtree Ridge reserves.
"I'm just proud of our defense, our offense and the way we played together," Fleetwood said.
Best's 3-yard TD run on third-and-goal with 3:50 left in the quarter extended the lead to 34-7 and Norcross fumbled on its first offensive play of the next series. Peachtree Ridge scored seven plays later on a 21-yard pass from Best to Horn, sealing a lopsided victory that kept the Lions tied with North Gwinnett atop the region standings.
"Nobody thought we were going to win this one," Horn said. "The whole week the coaches told us to keep our heads in the game and that's what we did."