Norcross’ Josh Boyd (9) eludes the tackle of Duluth’s Amari Bennett (55) and Cedric Long (5) during the second quarter of Friday’s game. (Photo: Jim Beatty)
NORCROSS — Coming into Friday’s Region 7-AAAAAA matchup with Duluth, Norcross found itself in an unfamiliar position — being 0-1 in the region.
However, the Blue Devils took care of business, beating the Wildcats 38-3.
“It’s a great win after starting the season the way we did,” Norcross head coach Keith Maloof said. “Good teams fight back and that’s what we have to do.”
The Blue Devils rang up 408 yards of total offense, while holding the Wildcats to 106 total yards, including only 18 rushing.
Taking the ball to open the game, the Blue Devils drove 70 yards in six plays. A.J. Bush completed a 13-yard pass to Jared Pinkney, then rushed for 13 yards. Two plays later, Josh Boyd found a seam and took it 38 yards for the touchdown to put Norcross up 7-0.
Duluth went three-and-out on its first drive, but the defense came up big as Tyrik Price recovered a fumble on the 26-yard line.
Although they weren’t able to get into the end zone, the Wildcats did get a 39-yard field goal by Nikolai Iotov to get within 7-3.
After the teams traded possessions, Norcross got things going early in the second quarter. Bush rushed for 27 yards before finding Clinton Lynch two plays later on a 45-yard completion down to the 2-yard line. Two plays later, Brandon Garner took it in from the 1-yard line to give the Blue Devils a 14-3 lead.
Norcross (2-2, 1-1) was far from done. After forcing Duluth to punt on its next possession, the Blue Devils got back to work. KaDarius Garrett rushed for 26 yards and Bush found Christopher Herndon in the middle of the field for 25 yards to give the Blue Devils a first-and-goal. A sack of Bush forced Norcross into third down, but Bush found Lynch in the end zone from five yards out to put the Blue Devils up 21-3.
Duluth got a little momentum back when Miles Tate returned the ensuing kickoff 46 yards. But three plays later, quarterback Thad Bell was intercepted by Norcross’ Jaquan Frazier, who returned it 45 yards down the to the Duluth 25-yard line.
However, the Blue Devils were unable to do anything with it as they turned it over on downs.
The Wildcats (0-4, 0-2) went three-and-out again and Norcross started on the Wildcats’ 39-yard line. After a first-down completion to Pinkney, the teams traded penalties. Bush rushed for eight yards and then got sacked for a seven-yard loss. A defensive holding penalty put the ball on the 16-yard line, but an incompletion brought in Blake Bingham for a 34-yard field goal. The Blue Devils took their 24-3 lead into halftime.
The third quarter saw neither team get much on offense, but by the time the fourth quarter came around, Norcross was rolling again.
The Blue Devils took 10 plays and went 86 yards on their next scoring drive. Boyd rushed for 11 yards and James Keeling rushed for 16 to move the ball close to midfield. The Blue Devils kept the ball on the ground the rest of the drive, culminating in Boyd’s second touchdown of the game, this time from the 9-yard line for a 31-3 lead.
Norcross added a final touchdown when KaDarius Garrett took the ball in from the 1-yard line on third-and-goal.
The Blue Devils were led by Boyd, who had 99 yards on 12 carries and two touchdowns, while Bush had 150 yards passing and 56 yards rushing. Lynch also had three catches for 61 yards.
Duluth was led by quarterback Thad Bell, who was 13-for-25 for 88 yards.
Norcross 7 17 0 14 - 38
Duluth 3 0 0 0 - 3
Norcross: Josh Boyd 38 run (Blake Bingham kick) 9:13
Duluth: Nikolai Iotov 39 field goal 3:46
Norcross: Brandon Garner 1 run (Bingham kick) 11:11
Norcross: Clinton Lynch 2 pass from AJ Bush (Bingham kick) 6:59
Norcross: Bingham 43 field goal :39
Norcross: Boyd 9 run (Bingham kick) 9:17
Norcross: KaDarius Garrett 1 run (Bingham kick) 2:57