Staff Photo: John Bohn North Gwinnett running back Donnie Miles (1) scores a touchdown as St. Augustine linebacker James Rentz trying to defend the line during the first quarter in Carrolton Saturday evening.
CARROLLTON -- North Gwinnett started its third straight showcase game in the same fashion it dominated the second by running off the first 28 points in the finale of the Florida-Georgia Gridiron Challenge.
The second half wasn't quite as dominating as St. Augustine fought back and nearly got back into the game, but Donnie Miles' fourth touchdown of the game rely in the fourth quarter helped the Bulldogs seal a 35-17 victory Saturday at Grisham Stadium.
Scotty Hosch and Chad Scott each had another big game, with the former completing 25 of 33 passes for 286 yards, with eight of them going to Scott for 101 yards.
And while North (2-1) nearly let St. Augustine back into the game, coach Bob Sphire was pleased with the overall effort of his team.
"I thought we had a chance to really put them away toward the end of the first half, and we let them back in the game," Sphire said. "But (St. Augustine is) a winning football program. They were going to play a 48-minute game. We've still got a long way to go to put a 48-minute game together."
The first 24 minutes were certainly dominated by the Bulldogs just about any and every standard.
North ran 45 offensive plays to St. Augustine's 14, had 16 first downs to two for the Yellow Jackets and outgained the visitors from Florida in total yards 285 to 76.
The Bulldogs flexed their muscles from the opening kickoff, taking their first drive 80 yards in 16 plays and chewing 7:11 off the clock before Miles dove in from two yards out to give North a 7-0 lead with 4:49 left in the opening frame.
North then really blew the game open in the second quarter, pinning St. Augustine in poor field position and forcing three-and-outs on four straight possessions before scoring on all three of their own possessions.
Hosch led the Bulldogs on drives of 44, 56 and 43 yards with the ground game finishing off each one -- two more scores coming from Miles and another touchdown by Joe Jones -- to take as much as a 28-0 lead with 20.9 seconds left in the half.
But the Yellow Jackets suddenly sprung to life late in the half after a 34-yard kickoff return from Timmy Lewis gave them the ball at their own 39-yard line with 13.2 seconds left.
Two quick strikes from quarterback Sandon Mims -- a 39-yard completion to Larry Harvey and a 22-yard scoring pass to Bobby Mitchell with 1.5 seconds left -- got St. Augustine on the board at 28-7 heading into intermission.
And that momentum carried over into the second half as the Yellow Jackets put together a nine-play, 57-yard drive that ended in Drew Clukey's 26-yard field goal to cut North's lead to 28-10 with 6:51 left in the third quarter.
And St. Augustine threatened to pull even closer after holding the Bulldogs on their next possession, but Jordan Chaskin helped grab momentum back for North by smothering a Mims pass for an interception on the next snap.
The Bulldogs then put the game away later in the quarter and into the fourth, embarking on a 10-play, 82-yard march, capped by Miles' final touchdown of the night on a 39-yard romp to push the lead to 35-10 with 7:59 to play.
St. Augustine scored the game's final points with a 39-yard touchdown pass from Mims to Larry Harvey with 21.1 seconds left, but the night belonged to the Bulldogs, which has gotten a strong performance from Hosch and the passing game the past two weeks.
"The receivers are just out there making plays," said Hosch, who has completed 37 of his last 50 passes for 589 yards over the last two weeks. "Before the season, there were a lot of questions because we'd lost a lot of receivers. But there are a lot of young guys stepping up like Chad Scott, Russell King and Alex Boyd."
King also had a big day receiving with 94 yards on seven catches, while Miles finished the night with 115 yards of total offense.