North Gwinnett overcame a 17-10 halftime deficit Friday to overwhelm defending state champion Norcross, 36-17, at Norcross.
The Bulldogs (3-0) are ranked No. 1 in Class 6A, and are seeking to regain the region title they lost to Norcross a year ago.
"I thought our guys showed a lot of grit," said North Gwinnett's head coach Bob Sphire after the game. His Bulldogs got off to a shaky start, racking up three unsportsmanlike conduct penalties and a personal foul in the first half of the game.
It was all Norcross in the first half. With 3:39 left on the clock in the first quarter, the Blue Devils scored their first touchdown and extra point of the night to lead 7-0. Then early in the second quarter Norcross scored a second touchdown and extra point when quarterback A.J. Bush's long pass put the Blue Devils within easy scoring range for another TD.
The Bulldogs finally got on the board with a long pass from Hayden Sphire to set up the team's first touchdown and extra point with 9:19 left in the first half.
Before the first half was over North Gwinnett capitalized on a Norcross turnover intercepting a pass on the Blue Devils 6 yard line. But the Bulldogs only managed only a field goal.
Then a North Gwinnett turnover set up a Blue Devil field goal, ending the first half with Norcross leading 17-10.
The Bulldogs, down during much of the game, lead for the first time with 3:11 left in the third quarter and scored their final touchdown with 6:40 left in the game.
Next week, North Gwinnett hosts Meadowcreek.
-- Do you think North will win the state title? Tell us in the comments below.