SUWANEE -- North Gwinnett clinched the second seed and guaranteed itself at least one home game in the playoffs with a 49-7 win over Mountain View on Senior Night. North head coach Bob Sphire was pleased to have the assurance of playing at home to open the playoffs.
"It's always nice to at least get that first one at home." said Sphire. "Even though we've been a pretty good road team, it is good for the guys to have that familiar routine going into a big game."
The Bulldogs (8-1, 6-1 Region 7-AAAAAA) came out hot receiving the opening kickoff and marching 70 yards on eight plays and scoring on a three-yard pass to Russell King from Michael Haynes who was 5-for-5 on the drive for 44 yards.
Two possessions later Haynes connected with Nate Brown for 48 yards for his second of three touchdown passes in the game. That capped a four-play 66-yard drive and with 11:13 to play in the second half the Bulldogs had a 14-0 lead.
Mountain View (3-6, 2-5 Region 7-AAAAAA) was unable to move on the ensuing possession but a 63-yard punt by Chris Bartlett forced the Bulldogs to start at their own 20. North was on the move again and looked as if it was going to be able to score easily, but when Caleb Scott bobbled a screen pass from Hayden Sphire the Bears' William Tuider was there to pick it off and return it 64 yards for a TD. Following the extra point the Bulldogs' lead was cut in half.
That was all the scoring North would allow and it followed the interception by scoring 21 points in just 55 seconds to finish out the first half. Scott caught a TD pass to finish a nine-play 65-yard drive and also was on the receiving end of a 10-yard score after the Bears fumbled the kickoff giving the Bulldogs excellent field position. Then Mountain View fumbled again on the first play of its next possession and North's Bobby Young picked it up and took it 34 yards for a TD giving the Bulldogs a 35-7 halftime lead.
North was able to get a lot of players in the game in the fourth quarter after extending its lead to 49-7 on a 34-yard run by Jonathan Lewis and a 6-yard TD pass from Hayden Sphire to Nick Andryusky in the third quarter.
Sphire was happy that he was able to get some playing time for the young players.
"That was a lot of fun." said Sphire. "I don't know if we got them all in but we were certainly trying."
Marvin Elam had a productive night, rushing for 118 yards on 22 carries. North's offense was led by Haynes who was 11 of 16 for 159 yards passing with three TDs. Sphire also added 125 yards through the air going 9 of 12 with a TD. Scott also had six catches for 91 yards and two scores.