LAWRENCEVILLE -- A football program can usually look at small steps as building blocks along the way to bigger and better things. That may be the case with Duluth as the Wildcats concluded the 2012 season with a 35-14 win over Mountain View in Region 7-AAAAAA action. With the win, Duluth (4-6, 3-5) notched its fourth overall victory of the season and third in the region.
It may not sound like much to some programs, but it marks the third year in a row that Duluth has won four games after six straight years of no more than two wins in a season.
"We've still got a long way to go, but I feel like we're getting there," said Duluth head coach Corey Jarvis. "We're building and it takes a lot of commitment. But we're working hard and I know tonight we got a great effort. I also think our seniors stepped up and played well, so I want to thank them."
After a scoreless first quarter, Mountain View struck first with a quick four-play, 62-yard drive that was capped off by William Tuider's 37-yard touchdown pass from Chris Bartlett for a 7-0 Bears' lead.
But it was all Duluth in the final 10 minutes before halftime as the Wildcats put up 28 points via the ground game and airways. Lavonte Cranford started the scoring with a 50-yard run to tie the game at 7-7.
Then Thad Bell and Jordan Dandridge went to work as the duo hooked up on scoring passes of 46 and 79 yards to give Duluth a 20-7 lead.
Jordan Dooley finished the scoring spree with a 12-yard run and also ran in a two-point conversion as the Wildcats opened up a 28-7 halftime advantage.
"I really don't know why we start slow, but I am proud of the guys the way they responded and got things going in the second quarter," said Jarvis.
Duluth tacked another TD early in the third quarter as Bell threw his third TD pass of the game on a 12-yard connection with Jeffrey Joseph as the Wildcats moved out to a 35-7 lead.
Mountain View closed out the scoring early in the fourth quarter as Marvin Elam scored from a yard out for the 35-14 final score.
For Duluth, Bell finished the game 9 of 17 for 195 yards and three TDs and no interceptions. Bell's favorite target was Dandridge, who had five catches for 140 yards and two TDs.
"Jordan is a special ballplayer and I've been trying to tell people about him," said Jarvis. "A lot of people don't know about him, but he's a special player."
Joseph added four receptions for 37 yards and one TD for Duluth. Dooley led the Wildcats' rushing attack with 13 carries for 100 yards and one TD.
Mountain View, which also continues to build a program in just its third season of varsity competition, matches last year's overall win total and finishes at 3-7 to go along with a 2-6 region record. Elam led the way for the Bears with 112 yards on 24 carries and one TD while Tuider also had an interception to go along with his TD catch.