Staff Photo: John Bohn S.Gwinnett running back Bernard Morrison (35) rushes for a gain while having his jersey pulled from behind by an M.L. King defensive player during the first quarter of a game played at Hallford Stadium in Dekalb County on Thursday. At right is S.Gwinnett Isadore Davis (23).
CLARKSTON -- South Gwinnett struggled to slow down Lowndes' wing-T offense in the season opener two weeks ago.
It didn't get much better against M.L. King's spread attack on Thursday at Hallford Stadium.
The Lions racked up 343 yards of offense and Division I prospect Blake Tibbs scored four touchdowns in No. 9 M.L. King's 33-23 win over South.
The loss dropped the Comets to 0-2 for the first time since 2008.
"We aren't used to this," South Gwinnett head coach John Small said. "I'm proud of the effort in the second half. I'm just frustrated we waited until then to wake up."
South spotted M.L. King 26 first-half points. The defense made three big stops in the second half to allow the offense to get back in the game.
Then Tibbs scored his fourth TD of the game in the final minutes to end any kind of South comeback.
"They've got athletes all over the field," Small said. "Him and the quarterback are great players."
Tibbs, who has offers from Georgia, Arkansas and Kentucky, had touchdown catches of 9, 5 and 31 yards. The 6-foot-2, 185-pound speedster also had a 76-yard run down the left sideline on a reverse.
M.L. King quarterback Jonquel Dawson, who set DeKalb County passing records last year, threw for a modest 107 yards and three TDs. The senior added 92 yards rushing.
South began the game by missing a 30-yard field goal and Mason Hart was intercepted at the Comets' 27-yard line. The Lions needed just three plays before Tibbs scored his first TD on a nine-yard pass from Dawson.
Andrecas Jackson scored on a one-yard run before the end of the first quarter to put the Lions ahead 14-0.
South's Azziz Higgins recovered a fumble at midfield to spark the Comets. L.J. Gainey caught a 27-yard pass from Hart to cut the deficit to 14-7.
Hart was 11 of 26 for 149 yards, while Gainey was the leading receiver with five catches for 58 yards.
M.L. King responded with scores on its next two possessions by Tibbs. The receiver caught a five-yard pass from Dawson and then had a 76-yard TD run on a reverse. The PAT and two-point conversion failed and the Lions led 26-7 at halftime.
South's defense stopped M.L. King on four downs at midfield and the offense responded with a nearly six minute scoring drive. The Comets needed a fake punt to keep the drive alive and Hart scored on a 1-yard run to make it 26-14.
The Comets added a 29-yard field goal by Amar Salihic to start the fourth quarter to make it 26-17.
"We had to have points right there and we took them," Small said.
Tibbs added the backbreaker with a 31-yard touchdown catch from Dawson with 3:10 left in the game to ends South's comeback.
Hart added the game's final score with a 3-yard run with 1:02 left in the game. The two-point conversion failed.
Deonte Davis led the South defense with six tackles, while Arlando Griffin and Corey Cooper had five stops each. Griffin also had a sack.
"I thought we played a lot better in the second half," Small said. "We're not going to lay down."