Photo: Brendan Sullivan North Gwinnett Donnie Miles (1) falls into the end zone for touchdown beside AC Flora defenders Rion Davis (3) and Donato Pelzer (55) during the National High School Gridiron Challenge at North Gwinnett High School in Suwanee on Saturday.
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SUWANEE -- Many felt the strength of the North Gwinnett squad was going to be its defense. And the Bulldogs have allowed just 14 points in their first two games.
But on Saturday night, the offense got in on the act.
Netting almost 500 total yards on offense, the Bulldogs (2-0) were never seriously challenged and rolled to a 38-0 win over A.C. Flora in the National High School Gridiron Challenge.
A.C. Flora, a Class AAA school from South Carolina, came into the event with a 35-6 record over the past three seasons, but couldn't come up with an answer to North's offense.
The bulk of the damage came via its passing game, led by senior quarterback Michael Haynes.
Haynes was steady all night, completing 18 of 26 passes for 236 yards and three touchdowns.
He also ran the ball 14 times for an additional 62 yards.
"Our offense is a work in progress and I like the fact that we are doing that, making progress," North head coach Bob Sphire said. "I was pleased with (Haynes) and he continues to get better. He's been working with his feet and that adds a dimension to his game. It puts pressure on the defense and that's a bonus when you can get that."
Haynes wasn't picky with who he threw to and kept his receivers busy as 14 different players caught at least one pass.
Leading that pack was Jonathan Lewis, who hauled in four passes for 64 yards and a TD, while Russell King caught four balls for 41 yards.
Michael Pucciarello added three catches for 55 yards with Nate Brown's three receptions netting 42 yards.
While the offense was putting points on the board, the defense kept up its part of the billing by limiting the Falcons (1-1) to 115 total yards.
"The defense played great tonight and really set the tempo," Sphire said.
The defense started strong with a three-and-out on A.C. Flora's first possession, forcing the Falcons to punt.
North took over on the Falcons' 48 and needed seven plays to find its opening score, ending the drive when Donnie Miles burst in for a 9-yard TD run.
In the second, things really got rolling as Haynes engineered two scoring drives, the first one covering 70 yards and 12 plays and ending when he found Jonathan Lewis in the left flat on a screen pass for a 21-yard score.
His second scoring drive covered 45 yards in five plays and ended with no time left on the clock when he connected with Cam Lewis on a 24-yard TD pass.
Sandwiched in between those scores was another scoring drive, this one headed by backup Hayden Sphire. Sphire led the Bulldogs on a four-play, 68-yard drive in just 47 seconds, capping it off with a 5-yard TD pass to King. He also hooked up with Caleb Scott for a 42-yard gain on the play's big drive.
"We've got to build up our depth and we were able to get a lot of guys some quality reps tonight," Bob Sphire said.
Hayden ended his night with 81 yards on 5 of 9 passes with one TD.
Leading 28-0 at the half, North put the game out of reach in the fourth quarter with 10 more points. Haynes picked up his third TD pass of the night with a 10-yard strike to Nick Andryusky and Michael D'Angelo tacked on a 39-yard field goal.
Flora was led by quarterback Jake Lewis, who threw for 84 yards on 5 of 8 attempts with one interception. The running game, however, never found its footing as multiple plays for negative yards by the North defense held the Falcons to minus four yards rushing.
NORTH GWINNETT 38, A.C. FLORA 0
North: Donnie Miles 9 run (Michael D'Angola kick) 7:00
North: Jonathan Lewis 21 pass from Michael Haynes (D'Angola kick) 4:50
North: Russell King 5 pass from Hayden Sphire (D'Angola kick) 1:46
North: Cam Lewis 24 pass from Haynes (D'Angola kick) :00
North: Nick Andryusky 10 pass from Haynes (D'Angola kick) 9:49
North: D'Angola 39 FG, 1:00