Having given up three touchdowns in its opening state playoff game, an angry North Gwinnett defense made a statement Friday with a 24-0 shutout of Woodstock.
With Camden County defeating Lowndes 10-7, North Gwinnett and Camden will have a coin flip at 10:30 a.m. today to determine who will host Friday’s quarterfinal game.
Sparking the Bulldogs, who advance to the quarterfinals for the fourth year in a row, was a stifling defense that held the Wolverines’ running game in check for the majority of the game.
In addition to keeping the Wolverines, who were riding a school record, nine-game winning streak, off the scoreboard, the Bulldogs’ defense got offensive.
With Woodstock 8 yards away from the end zone, defensive lineman Ayo Ojolola picked up a loose ball following a quarterback sack and returned it 92 yards, giving North Gwinnett a 14-0 lead with 1:25 left in the first quarter.
“I didn’t think I was going to make it,” Ojolola said of his touchdown run. “We wanted this shutout bad. We were a little embarrassed because of the way we played last week.”
Not that the Bulldogs needed any help, but the Wolverines (10-2) were their own worst enemy, committing two fumbles and an interception in the game.
Woodstock’s first mistake was a fumble on the second play from scrimmage, giving the Bulldogs the ball at the Woodstock 42-yard line.
Six plays later, North Gwinnett quarterback CJ Uzomah connected with Cordero Dixon for a 32-yard touchdown with 6:47 left in the opening quarter.
Ojolola’s play capped a quarter where Woodstock was held to 41 yards of total offense.
“That was a big momentum swing,” North Gwinnett head coach Bob Sphire said. “It took a lot of air out of their sails early.”
Leading 14-0, North Gwinnett never looked back, as the defensive line shut down the Wolverines, who were averaging just 3 yards per carry for the first three quarter.
Unable to put together a sustaining drive, Woodstock was forced to punt seven times.
North Gwinnett also won the battle for field position, as the Wolverines started eight of their 11 possessions either at their own 20-yard line or worse.