LAWRENCEVILLE — The defensive unit carried the load for Norcross once again Friday night.
The Blue Devils put their unblemished Region 7-AAAAAA football record on the line in a road test against Discovery. Their defense, which has been stingy as of late, kept the opposing offense out of the end zone for the fifth consecutive game. They set the tone early, power the way to a 35-6 victory.
“We’ve got a lot of cleaning up to do, obviously, but a win’s a win in region play,” Norcross head coach Keith Maloof said. “We’ll take it, we’ll move on and we’ll get ready for next week.”
The explosive offenses of Hillgrove, Mill Creek and East Coweta gave Maloof’s defense fits the first three weeks of the season. They gave up 95 points in 12 quarters, stumbling out to a 1-2 start. Norcross (6-2, 4-0) has since rattled off five straight wins, outscoring opponents 175-9 over that span.
“Defensively, we’ve got a shutout going all the way through since the third week of the year,” Norcross head coach Keith Maloof said. “Just keep playing that way and our defense gives us a chance.”
Offense came at a premium for both squads early on Friday. The game’s first points, which proved to be the Titans’ lone score of the night, came by way of Discovery’s defense.
After seeing its first drive ended prematurely with an interception, Norcross took over on its own 40 and began to salt away the defense on the ground. The Blue Devils pounded their way inside the Titans’ 30-yard line before Discovery senior Qui'Sean Mills stripped the ball from a running back and turned on the jets, sprinting down the left sideline for a 75-yard touchdown.
Following a failed point-after attempt, the Titans held a 6-0 lead at the 6:14 mark in the opening quarter. They took that advantage into the start of the second quarter.
From that point on, however, seemingly everything worked in the Blue Devils’ favor.
Norcross pulled ahead on the second play of the second quarter. Facing a third down on the Discovery 2-yard line, junior tight end Lawson Luckie took a direct snap and barreled into the end zone for the score.
Luckie found himself standing in the promised land once again less than two minutes later. Discovery fumbled the ensuing kickoff, setting the Blue Devils up inside the red zone. Just four plays later, Luckie took another direct snap and ran it in to put Norcross up 14-6 with 9:41 to go in the half.
The Blue Devils continued to lean on their rushing attack to wear down the Discovery defense throughout the night. They tacked on a rushing touchdown from sophomore quarterback Arrington Watkins late in the quarter, closing out the half with a 5-yard passing touchdown from Watkins to Luckie with 1:05 left.
Despite opening the second quarter with a 6-0 deficit, the Blue Devils trotted into the locker room with a 28-6 lead.
Norcross’ final touchdown of the game came midway through third quarter when Watkins rolled out to his right and found junior Nakai Poole for a 4-yard touchdown.
With a sophomore quarterback at the helm, the Blue Devil offense has shown signs of growth each week. While Maloof and his staff continue their search for the unit’s identity, the club is encouraged by the progress it’s made thus far.
Maloof said his team’s mindset at this point of the year is simple: “Just win and move on.”
“It’s not looking back at how pretty things are,” he said. “It’s just win and move on and clean things up as we go.”