SUWANEE — After its emotionally-charged win over Norcross last week, North Gwinnett had a different kind of challenge Friday night.
Facing a Meadowcreek team that has lost its last 50 games, the top-ranked Bulldogs (4-0, 2-0) didn’t let their focus slip and cruised to a 63-0 shutout over the Mustangs (0-3, 0-1).
“I was pleased with our guys,” North head coach Bob Sphire said. “We tried to keep it dialed in in terms of working on our stuff. I actually had a list of 25 things scripted that I wanted to make sure we were working on tonight and we had a chance tonight to do that.”
North quarterback Hayden Sphire put together one of the most efficient games in recent memory, completing 13 of 16 passes for 215 yards and six touchdowns, all in the first half.
Three of his TDs went to Caleb Scott on plays of 27, 50 and 16 yards. Nate Brown, who scored four times in the Norcross win, added two more TDs on catches of 21 and seven yards.
In all, 10 different Bulldogs caught at least one pass, led by Scott’s 93 yards and three TDs on three catches. Brown finished with three receptions for 44 yards and two scores, while Josh Imatorbhebhe (two catches, 41 yards, one TD) and Almonzo Brown (22-yard TD reception) rounded out the scoring.
“He completed thirteen passes in the first half, but six of them went for scores,” Coach Sphire said of his quarterback’s performance. “Obviously, he has a great group of receivers and he was getting the ball to the right people tonight.”
With the passing game flourishing, North didn’t need to rely on its running game much, gaining 93 yards on the ground on 11 rushes. C.J. Leggett was the top ground gainer, tallying 36 yards on three carries with two-yard TD run in the first quarter.
Meadowcreek’s offense was led by quarterback Antonio Bailey, who finished with 120 yards on 6 of 17 attempts with two interceptions.
His top target of the night was Laquan Johnson, who led Meadowcreek with 91 yards on three catches, including a dazzling diving catch at midfield for a 37-yard gaine in the fourth quarter.
“Those kids have great character and come out and play the game of football,” Sphire said of Meadowcreek. “I tip my hat to them because they were fighting hard until the last snap.”
North wasted no time taking control. The Bulldogs scored on their second play on offense with Sphire’s first TD pass to Brown on a 27-yard hookup.
The defense provided the next score when Dante Sawyer picked up an errant pitch on Meadowcreek’s first offensive play and rolled in for a TD on an 11-yard return.
The Bulldogs added two more scores in the first quarter to go up 28-0 and repeated that number in the second quarter getting four more TD passes from Sphire, two to Scott, one to Nate Brown and the other to Almonzo Brown.
With a running clock in the second half, the reserves didn’t have much time to produce, but the Bulldog backups added one more TD, scoring in the third quarter when John Urzua connected with Imatorbhebhe on a 30-yard strike.
MEADOWCREEK 0 0 0 0 - 0
NORTH GWINNETT 28 28 7 0 - 63
North: Caleb Scott 27 pass from Hayden Sphire (Michael D’Angola kick) 11:14
North: Dante Sawyer 11 fumble return (D’Angola kick) 11:07
North: Nate Brown 21 pass from Sphire (D’Angola kick) 7:25
North: C.J. Leggett 2 run (D’Angola kick) 3:39
North: Scott 50 pass from Sphire (D’Angola kick) 11:41
North: Scott 16 pass from Sphire (Brad Harvey kick) 10:30
North: Nate Brown 7 pass from Sphire (D’Angola kick) 7:00
North: Almonzo Brown 22 pass from Sphire (Harvey kick) 5:01
North: Joshua Imatorbhebhe 30 pass from John Urzua (Sergey Hartsthorne kick) 4:00