HIGHLIGHTS: Duluth vs. North Gwinnett
Highlights from the Duluth vs. North Gwinnett football game in which the Bulldogs defeated the Wildcats 42-28.
SUWANEE -- Nothing comes easy in Region 7-AAAAAA football. Just ask North Gwinnett head coach Bob Sphire.
Facing Duluth in a critical region game for both teams, North (4-1, 2-1) built an early lead and then fended off a furious rally by the Wildcats to secure a 42-28 win on Friday night at Tom Robinson Memorial Stadium.
North quarterback Michael Haynes used both his arm and his legs in helping North pull away, throwing for one touchdown and rushing for two more.
"Haynes made some key plays for us tonight," Sphire said. "He's become real comfortable in running the offense and is really dangerous with his feet."
Haynes threw for 94 yards on 12 of 19 attempts with one TD and rushed for two more, tallying 142 yards on the ground on 12 carries.
His first rushing score came early in the second on a 4-yard run, but it was his second score on the ground that finally put the game away for North.
Duluth cut the score to 35-28 with 3:05 left when Thad Bell connected with Gregory Blackshear on an 11-yard TD pass.
Duluth then attempted an onside kick and recovered it but the official ruled that the ball only went nine yards, giving North possession with just over three minutes left.
Three plays later, Haynes scrambled out of the pocket and raced 45 yards for the TD, effectively putting the game out of reach with 2:11 left.
The play of Duluth quarterback Bell was part of the reason that run was needed as Bell hit 17 of 26 passes for 211 yards.
What made Bell's night even more remarkable was that he didn't even start under center. That job went to Tyler Campbell, who notched the first score of the night on an 81-yard run in the first quarter.
However, a concussion in the second quarter put Campbell out, forcing Bell to play under center.
"We came back in the second half and did an outstanding job," Duluth head coach Corey Jarvis said. "I knew we were going to have to throw the ball and Bell did a great job. We just couldn't stop them on offense."
After Campbell's run put Duluth up 7-0, North scored the next 28 points, getting a 2-yard TD pass from Haynes, a 4-yard scoring run from Haynes and a 7-yard run from Cam Lewis.
The lead was extended in the third quarter when Nick Andryusky plunged in from 1 yard out, but Bell began Duluth's comeback with a 52-yard TD pass to Jordan Dandridge.
North still held a comfortable 28-14 lead when Hayden Sphire led the Bulldogs on another scoring drive, ending with a 10-yard TD pass to Brown, his second of the night.
But Bell engineered two more scoring drives for Duluth (2-4, 1-3), hooking up with Dandridge on a 15-yard strike, followed by Blackshear's 11-yard TD catch to cut the margin to 35-28.
Dandridge had a huge night receiving, catching seven passes for two TDs and 126 yards. North was led in receiving by Brown with six catches and two scores for 60 yards.