North Gwinnett 51 Peachtree Ridge 24

By Robert Haddocks

A humbling loss and a matchup against a cross-town rival was all North Gwinnett needed to return to its familiar form.

The Bulldogs got back on track with a thorough 51-24 win over Peachtree Ridge. Tied 24-24 at halftime, the Bulldogs beat down the Lions by scoring on all five second-half possessions before running out the clock. Quarterback John Urzua threw for four touchdowns in three quarters of action, two each to Josh Imatorbhebhe and Almonzo Brown.

The Bulldogs, who have scored more than 50 points in two of the last three weeks, improve to 5-2, 3-1 in Region 7-AAAAAA. Peachtree Ridge also is 5-2, 3-1.

North Gwinnett head coach Bob Sphire last week’s 17-10 loss to Norcross and facing the Lions provided ample inspiration. “We didn’t have to say anything,” Sphire said, adding that many of the teams’ players grew up together. “That was the best we’ve played, our most complete game. Our energy, our demeanor, our toughness was impressive. It looked like we were ready to play another game.”

The Bulldogs broke the third-quarter tie on their second play from scrimmage. Urzua found Brown open in the seam and the senior receiver juked a defender and outran the defense for a 31-24 lead. Urzua completed 21 of 37 passes for 284 yards. Brown finished with four catches for 96 yards.

On North’s next possession, Kameron Pickett scored the first of his two rushing touchdowns and Brad Harvey kicked his second of three field goals to expand the lead to 41-24 early in the fourth quarter. From that point on, North dominated and held Peachtree Ridge without a single first down.

Both teams’ offenses were at their best in the first half, trading big plays and scores, leading to six touchdowns. North Gwinnett, which now has won 10 of the last 11 games between the Suwanee schools, jumped out to a 14-0 lead after two short touchdown catches by Josh Imatorbhebhe.

Peachtree Ridge answered with a one-play drive when Christian Sutton took a hitch pattern, spun on a defender and sprinted in for a 69-yard score. The Lions followed that with a four-play drive, capped by a 51-yard touchdown burst by Malik Staples.

North responded with an 11-play drive resulting in Urzua’s third touchdown pass of the half, a 5-yard slant to Brown. Peachtree Ridge wasted no time in tying the score at 21-21. On the first play of the drive, Chance Thrasher scrambled to buy time and then found Tyler Campbell behind the defense for an 80-yard touchdown. Both teams closed out the scoring with short field goals.

Thrasher completed 12 of 19 passes for 244 yards in the half. Urzua was 14 of 25 for 128. Four of the teams’ six touchdowns in the half were drives of four plays or fewer with another taking six plays.

Sphire still likes North Gwinnett’s chances to win the region. The Bulldogs have a bye next week and their three remaining games are against Duluth, Meadowcreek and Mountain View, teams with a combined three wins. Peachtree Ridge’s schedule is more daunting: Norcross, Collins Hill and Mill Creek.

NG – Josh Imatorbhebhe 9 pass from John Urzua (Brad Harvey kick)

NG – Imatorbhebhe 14 pass from Urzua (Harvey kick)

PR – Christian Sutton 69 pass from Chance Thrasher (Zaniel Phillips kick)

PR – Malik Staples 51 run (Phillips kick)

NG – Almonzo Brown 5 pass from Urzua (Harvey kick)

PR – Tyler Campbell 80 pass from Thrasher (Phillips kick)

NG – Harvey 32 FG

PR – Phillips 28 FG

NG – Brown 74 pass from Urzua (Harvey kick)

NG – Kameron Pickett 5 run (Harvey kick)

NG – Harvey 26 FG

NG – Pickett 5 run (Harvey kick)

NG – Harvey 38 FG