Staff Photo: Jason Braverman Alvin Kamara (6) gets by the Collins Hill defenders, including Grant McDonald (18), Austin Smith (24) and Daniel Fish (9) during Friday's game. Kamara ran for 300 yards on 3 touchdowns.
HIGHLIGHTS: Norcross vs. Collins Hill
Highlights from the Norcross vs. Collins Hill football game in which the Blue Devils defeated the Eagles 35-23.
NORCROSS --Ankle injuries, one in the preseason scrimmage at Colquitt County and one vs. Parkview, slowed down Alvin Kamara in the early stages of this football season.
Nothing was slowing down the Norcross running back on Friday night.
Finally healthy, Kamara rushed for a career-high 300 yards and three touchdowns on only 23 carries as the third-ranked Blue Devils defeated Collins Hill 35-23 in a matchup of Region 7-AAAAAA unbeatens.
"We knew he could have a big night like this and we've been waiting for it," said Norcross head coach Keith Maloof, who won his 100th game with the Blue Devils. "The last couple of weeks he's gotten healthy and I know he's back to normal now. He had a great game. And he couldn't have done it without the offensive line. Those guys did a great job."
Norcross (7-0, 5-0) rushed 35 times for 360 yards, setting the tone early with some big runs by Kamara.
The highly recruited senior, after taking a direct snap, ripped off an 80-yard TD run on the game's first play. He added a 61-yard TD run four minutes later, giving him 146 yards on his first three carries.
"That's the best running back I've seen," Collins Hill head coach Kevin Reach said of Kamara. "Every time he touches the ball he's got a chance to go for 6."
Kamara scored his third TD on a 30-yard run early in the fourth quarter for a 35-16 lead.
"I didn't really think about how many yards I had (during the game)," Kamara said. "As long as we were winning the game, that's all that mattered. And the O-line, they played great tonight."
It wasn't just Kamara making plays for the Blue Devils, though.
After Collins Hill (4-2, 3-1) cut the margin to 14-7 on Brett Sheehan's 52-yard TD pass to Tyler Henderson, JaQuan Simpkins returned the ensuing kick 99 yards for a Norcross score.
The Eagles got to within 21-16 late in the first half after a TD run by Daniel Fish and a 39-yard field goal by Mitchell Blanchard, but another long play by the Blue Devils opened up the lead again. Myles Autry took a pass from Joseph Wilber and raced 49 yards for a score just before halftime. Autry caught four passes for 73 yards and rushed six times for 33 yards, while Wilber completed 9 of 16 passes for 145 yards.
"It was a great game," Kamara said. "We worked hard at practice. We played Habersham Central last week and we wanted a hard week of practice. We knew there was a lot at stake this week. We knew what we had to do."
With Peachtree Ridge, Mountain View and Meadowcreek left on the schedule, unbeaten Norcross now has a much clearer path to the region title with the outright lead and the tiebreaker edge on every one-loss team.
"This one really sets us apart, but we've still got some good teams in the region left to play," Maloof said.
Collins Hill had some offensive success with quick tempo, no-huddle against the Norcross defense. Sheehan completed 21 of 30 passes for 280 yards and a pair of TDs, the last to Julian Williams with 4:09 left to cut the deficit to 35-23. Henderson caught six passes for 110 yards (and rushed for 42 yards), Justin Wyatt caught eight passes for 82 yards and Williams finished with six catches for 57 yards.
The Eagles could have scored more in the first half, but were pushed back without points on three possessions inside the Norcross 35. Lorenzo Carter led the Blue Devils' defense with three sacks, Jahmal Jones had a sack and a tackle for a loss and Jordan Noil had a late interception to seal the victory.
"Every week is big, but this was really big," Kamara said. "Hopefully it sets us up for the region championship."