NORCROSS — The Norcross High School football team opened the Class AAAAAAA playoffs against South Forsyth High School for the second consecutive season Friday night.
Last year, Norcross shut out South Forsyth 21-0. This year, the War Eagles exhibited an improved offense. The problem for South Forsyth was Norcross was also improved.
The undefeated Blue Devils (11-0) controlled the game against South Forsyth and advanced with a 47-20 win. They will host Roswell in the second round next week.
“Good team, well-coached, well-disciplined,” Norcross head coach Keith Maloof said of his team's opponent. “Offensively, I knew we could do it. Defensively we had, what, one or two breakdowns?”
South Forsyth was able to capitalize on three big pass plays. Maloof said the plays were uncharacteristic of Norcross’ defense but ugly wins are still considered wins, especially in November.
Norcross jumped out to an early lead with 26 unanswered points in the first half. The Blue Devils opened the game with some methodical runs but punctuated the first drive on a 19-yard fade route from quarterback Mason Kaplan to receiver Trey Goodman. A defensive stop led to another score on Norcross’ second drive, a five-yard run for Michael Porter. Norcross’ defense forced a three-and-out to start the second quarter and answered on the following offensive play, a 70-yard touchdown pass to Goodman.
Norcross got out to a comfortable lead with fewer than two minutes in the first half when Kaplan found D’Andre Golden from 59 yards out. Norcross led 26-0 before South Forsyth broke the shutout.
Norcross forced South Forsyth to move the ball in the passing game after falling behind early, but the War Eagles' passing was inconsistent. South Forsyth was 11-for-31 passing with an interception, thanks to steady pressure from Norcross' defense.
Three big pass plays accounted for the War Eagles’ scores. The first was with time expiring in the first half when quarterback Kyle Durham heaved a lofty pass that Devin McGlockton hauled in for a touchdown.
South Forsyth scored on its opening drive in the second half on a 57-yard pass from Durham to Mitchell Thompson. Suddenly, Norcross’ lead was less comfortable.
Maloof was proud of his defense the brought consistent pressure but credited Durham’s athleticism for the big-play mishaps that led to scores.
“He extends the play very well and that’s one thing we can’t let offenses do,” he said.
Norcross responded with a score in the third quarter, a one-handed catch for Lawson Luckie.
South Forsyth pulled within three scores when Durham found sophomore Alex Urias, but Norcross’ offense responded with five minutes left on a 16-yard touchdown run from Jahni Clarke.
“I don’t like giving up three touchdowns, but when you score close to 50 (points) — good programs are going to find ways (to win),” Maloof said.
Kaplan finished 13-for-15 passing with 302 yards. Kaleb Jackson led the Blue Devils rushing with 14 carries for 101 yards.
NORCROSS 47, SOUTH FORSYTH 20
SF 0 6 7 7 — 20
N 13 14 14 6 — 47
Norcross: Trey Goodman 19 pass from Mason Kaplan (Francisco Hernandez kick), 8:29
Norcross: Michael Porter 5 run (kick failed), 1:05
Norcross: Trey Goodman 70 pass from Kaplan (Hernandez kick), 10:46
Norcross: D’Andre Golden 59 pass from Kaplan (Hernandez kick), 1:41
South Forsyth: Devin McGlockton 33 pass from Kyle Durham (pass failed), :00
South Forsyth: Mitchell Thompson 57 pass from Durham (Tyler Simpson kick), 9:14
Norcross: Porter 58 pass from Kaplan (Hernandez kick)
Norcross: Lawson Luckie 87 pass from Kaplan (Hernandez kick), 1:13
South Forsyth: Alex Urias 30 pass from Durham (Simpson kick), 9:53
Norcross: Jahni Clarke 16 run (kick failed), 5:00
First downs 16 9
Rushes-yards 37-205 18-35
Passing yards 302 224
Comp-Att-INT 13-15-0 11-31-1
Fumbles-lost 3-2 1-1
Penalties-yards 14-85 5-45
Rushing -- Norcross: Kaleb Jackson 14-101; Jahni Clarke 11-74 1 TD; Michael Porter: 7-32; Mason Kaplan: 2-14; Team: 3-(-16); South Forsyth: Mitchell Thompson 1-(-1); Tre-von Green 4-4; Kyle Durham 5-9; Gavin Morris: 7-30; Team 1-(-7)
Passing -- Norcross: Mason Kaplan 13-15-0 302; South Forsyth: Kyle Durham 10-30-1, 201 yards, 3 TDS; Chris Nelson 1-1, 23 yards
Receiving -- Norcross: Zion Alexander 2-28; Trey Goodman 4-110 2 TDs; Michael Porter 2-68 TD; D’Andre Golden 1-59 TD; Lawson Luckie 4-37 TD; South Forsyth: Mitchell Thompson: 4-98 TD; Gavin Morris 1-1; Ben Harvey 1-23; Devin McGlockton 3-55 TD; Alex Urias: 2-47 TD