Norcross’ A.J. Bush (6) carries the ball past Collins Hill’s Emmanuel Belmar (49) and Joseph Park (10) for a touchdown during high school football action in Norcross Friday. (Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan)
NORCROSS — The Norcross defense knew the numbers well.
Collins Hill racked up 518 yards, including a school-record 420 passing yards from Tyler Herman, in last week’s win over Peachtree Ridge.
“We saw what (Herman) did last week with 530 yards total offense, just sitting back there in the pocket,” Norcross defensive end Lorenzo Carter said. “We knew it was important to get back there and get a lot of pressure.”
No. 7 Norcross executed that plan perfectly Friday, dominating No. 9 Collins Hill’s offense throughout in a 28-0 victory. The defending Class AAAAAA state champions held the previously unbeaten Eagles to 120 offensive yards and six first downs.
Collins Hill gained just 25 yards and two first downs, one on pass interference, in the second half. Herman, the county’s leading passer, completed 11 of 21 passes for just 68 yards.
“We’re just getting better (on defense),” Norcross head coach Keith Maloof said. “The plan was to try to disrupt (Herman’s) rhythm. When he gets rhythm, he can hit this, hit that, hit this, hit that. Then they run (Tyler Henderson) up underneath. We just had to disrupt his rhythm. We challenged the defense to disport his rhythm and they got to him.
“The secondary, from the way they started to where they are now, it’s a world of difference. They’ve accepted the challenge to get better, not just on Friday, but in practice.”
Collins Hill (5-1, 3-1 Region 7–AAAAAA) completed just one pass longer than 10 yards. Carter and Jean-Baptiste Kouassi teamed up for three of Norcross’ four sacks.
While the defense controlled play, Norcross quarterback A.J. Bush played his best game of the season.
The senior completed 9 of 14 passes for 202 yards and a 30-yard touchdown pass to Christopher Herndon for the game’s first score. He ran 13 times for 71 yards and three more scores, two in the first half as the Blue Devils (5-2, 4-1) built a 21-0 halftime lead.
His scoring runs were for 11, 20 and 13 yards.
“It was his best by far,” Maloof said of Bush. “We know what he can do. We’re figuring him out. We’ve got to utilize his skills. When he has time to throw, he can hurt some people. And he had some nice runs tonight.”
Clinton Lynch (three catches for 66 yards) and Darian Dennis (three catches for 55 yards) had big games catching Bush’s pass, while Myles Autry added two catches for 51 yards as he continues a comeback from knee surgery.
Josh Boyd also continued his stellar play, carrying 16 times for 114 yards.
Tyler Henderson rushed 14 times for 87 yards and was Collins Hill’s most consistent offense. But most of his yardage came on two runs, a 19-yarder and a 25-yarder.
“I thought defensively we played hard, especially in the second half,” Collins Hill head coach Kevin Reach said. “They fought hard. … I didn’t think we played well offensively, across the offensive front. I don’t think it had anything to do with the kids’ effort, we just had too many missed assignments. The defense kept it closer than it was. I thought they played hard.”
NORCROSS 28, COLLINS HILL 0
Collins Hill 0 0 0 0 - 0
Norcross 7 14 0 7 - 28
Norcross: Christopher Herndon 30 pass from A.J. Bush (Blake Bingham kick) 3:02
Norcross: Bush 11 run (Bingham kick) 10:18
Norcross: Bush 20 run (Bingham kick) 5:30
Norcross: Bush 13 run (Bingham kick) :58
Collins -- Hill Norcross
First downs 6 16
Rushes-yards 24-52 34-200
Passing yards 68 202
Comp-Att-INT 11-21-1 9-14-0
Fumbles-lost 1-0 0-0
Penalties-yards 3-15 14-106
RUSHING - Collins Hill: Henderson 14-87; Ari Benoit 2-7; Tyler Herman 7-(-24); Team 1-(-18). Norcross: Josh Boyd 16-114; Bush 13-71; Myles Autry 3-7; Clinton Lynch 1-8.
PASSING - Collins Hill: Herman 11-21-1, 68. Norcross: Bush 9-14-0, 202.
RECEIVING - Collins Hill: Henderson 4-16; Dwayne Smith 2-12; Rhyan England 2-8; Quentin Jones 1-17; Amadi Stephens 1-10; Grant McDonald 1-5. Norcross: Lynch 3-66; Darian Dennis 3-55; Autry 2-51; Herndon 1-30.