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Norcross beats Camden County, advances to semifinals

Alvin Kamara

Alvin Kamara

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Norcross' Joseph Wilber

KINGSLAND — Making Camden County pay dearly for its mistakes, Norcross advanced to the Class AAAAAA semifinals for the first time in school histroy Friday with a 34-20 victory over the the Wildcats in Kingsland.

Alvin Kamara did a little of everything for the winning Blue Devils (13-0), running for 158 yards on 27 carries and throwing a second-quarter touchdown pass to Trey Smith, whose only two catches went for scores.

Quarterback Joseph Wilber scored on a second-quarter keeper as Norcross overcame two touchdowns from Camden standout back and University of Georgia commitment J.J. Green. A fourth-quarter surge was huge as the Blue Devils earned a home playoff game next Friday vs. Colquitt County.

“It’s a big deal for the community, it’s big for the kids and the program,” Norcross head coach Keith Maloof said of the first semifinal trip for the Blue Devils. “We’ve got a great Colquitt County team coming in to play us. We’ll play our hearts out and hopefully get to a state championship game.”

Norcross trailed 20-19 entering the fourth quarter but entered the final period driving after picking off Camden quarterback Brice Ramsey for the second time in the game. Jordan Noil’s interception set the Blue Devils up at their 38-yard line, and nine plays later, Wilber’s lob found Smith in the end zone from 20 yards out.

After securing the two-point conversion, Norcross — which had 355 yards of total offense on the night — never looked back, and tacked on an insurance touchdown five minutes later.

Down seven, Camden (11-2) went just three yards on its next possession, and was met with disaster as an errant punt snap resulted in Ramsey being tackled for a 13-yard loss. Kamara carried on four of five plays from the Wildcat 22, the last a nine-yard scoring burst with 4:14 left.

Wilber was 10 of 16 for 129 yards, and the Norcross defense limited the high-powered Wildcats to 178 total yards and kept them off the scoreboard for the final 23 minutes of game time. Ramsey, a Georgia commit also playing his final game, completed just five of nine throws for 28 yards.

“You look at time of possession and we had it 31 (minutes) or so and they had 16 or 17,” Maloof said. “Going into the fourth quarter, you had to figure the offensive and defensive lines had played really great. I told our offensive line going into the second half, just take the gae over. Alvin did a good job running the ball and our line did a great job the whole second half.”

Both offenses got off to fast starts, scoring touchdowns on their first possessions.

Norcross accepted the opening kickoff, and went 78 yards in just six plays and 3:11. Kamara bolted for 33 yards and two plays later, Wilber found Myles Autry over the middle for a 32-yard touchdown.

The Wildcats responded in eight plays, 59 yards and 3:06 on Green’s first of two five-yard touchdown darts. Kalvarez Bessent’s 23-yard carry on second-and-13 proved large, as did Chris Williams’ 13-yard gain on third-and-six.

The Blue Devils’ lone turnover rose up and bit them two possessions later. Grant Gabriel intercepted Wilber to ruin a scoring opportunity, and returned the takeaway 82 yards to set the hosts on the doorstep. Green found paydirt on the next play, and Gabriel’s conversion provided a 14-7 lead 10:07 before halftime.

The Camden mistakes spilled over to the defense, whistled for two personal foul penalties to keep the next Norcross march alive. One major infraction, on a third-and-11 incompletion, was particularly damaging, and Wilber found a crease up the middle on a six-yard TD scamper four plays later.

Though a missed extra point left the visitors still down one, a Shon Akins pick provided a prime scoring chance. Norcross wasted no time, Kamara finding a lonesome Smith down the sideline for an easy 30-yard touchdown 2:26 before intermission.

The Wildcats enjoyed their last lead early in the third quarter, as Williams tightroped the final few yards in a 30-yard touchdown run. Camden, the Region 1 champion, reached Norcross territory just once more.

Williams paced Camden with 59 yards on six carries, and Green needed 12 carries to get 43.