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Blue Devils dominant against Duluth

Joseph Wilber

Joseph Wilber

NORCROSS -- It may have looked close with a 7-0 score at the end of the first quarter, but Duluth's game at Norcross was anything but.

When the opening 12 minutes ended, Norcross's defense had allowed the Wildcats just six total yards of offense in their two possessions. The 15 penalty yards Duluth racked up bested that number by nine. By contrast, seven separate Blue Devil plays went for more than six yards at the same mark.

And it only got worse from there as Norcross sailed past rival Duluth for a 36-7 win.

The six first-quarter yards became minus-4 at the half, compared to 306 for the Blue Devils (4-0, 2-0 Region 7-AAAAAA), who led 21-0.

Duluth ran just 12 plays in the first half, the minimum for four three-and-out possession. Norcross had 13 first downs.

"Defensively, I couldn't ask for anything better against an explosive offense," Norcross head coach Keith Maloof said. "I couldn't be more proud than the defense."

And on offense, Norcross did it all.

Alvin Kamara rushed for 70 of his 84 yards in the first half, including touchdown runs of 1 and 9 yards and quarterback Joseph Wilber threw for 200 yards in the opening half. Wilber spread the ball to five different receivers, including a 31-yards scoring pass to Myles Autry, who did most of the work, slicing through the Wildcats defense for the score.

The halftime score was nearly worse after Wilber found Clinton Lynch on third-and-18 from the Blue Devils' 25-yard line for a 72-yard connection down to the 3-yard line. But the Duluth (1-3, 0-2 region) defense held, forcing a missed field goal by Joseph Mahfood as time expired in the first half.

"I was a little disappointed we didn't score from the (goal line) at the end of the half, Maloof said. "That took a little bit of the joy out of the first half. We've got to be an experienced team there."

In the third quarter the other sides of the ball got into the scoring action for the Blue Devils.

Norcross opened the quarter with an eight play, 85-yard drive capped off by a 9-yard pass from Wilber to Trey Smith on third-and-goal. Wilber was 3 of 3 on the drive for 63 yards, including a 37-yard completion to Lynch. Wilber ended the night 15 of 19 for 263 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Thanks to the two big connections with Lynch, the junior receiver caught four passes for 133 yards.

"He's a player, he's a gamer," Maloof said of Lynch. "He's always been that way. He's a quiet kid. I am just proud that he's having the great year that he's having so far."

Five different receivers caught passes for Norcross, Autry ended the game with four catches for 59 yards and Maaseiah Francis had three catches for 47 yards.

Duluth found some offense in the second half with Tyler Campbell running the option as the Wildcats showed the effects of losing starting quarterback Will Delorenzo to a separated shoulder a week ago.

But Norcross put the game away with two big plays late in the quarter.

After forcing another Duluth punt, Autry took the kick at the 50 and, like his touchdown catch, sprinted through the Wildcats for his second score of the night. And in the final minutes of the quarter, bad field position turned into a safety and the final Norcross points of the night, making it 36-0.

Duluth got on the board in the fourth quarter with an interception return by Markael Maxwell against the reserves from the Blue Devils.

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