Norcross Holds Off Valdosta in Sloppy, Yet Thrilling Game

Photo By Kyle Sandy

Penalties, hard hitting and fumbles were the story in a sloppy third game of the day in the Corky Kell Classic, but in the end it was Norcross who survived a game which featured a nearly unimaginable 14 fumbles, 34-31. After four blowouts to start off the weekend of games, the Blue Devils and Wildcats set the stadium ablaze, matching big play with big play. Just 26 seconds into the game on Valdosta’s second play from scrimmage, Seth Shuman hit running back Tim Griffin for an electrifying 80-yard touchdown pass that got the Valdosta faithful out of their seats early.  But just 19 seconds later, on Norcross’ first play from scrimmage, quarterback Baron Radcliff ripped off a 57-yard run of his own to knot the game up at 7. JJ Strickland would tack on a four-yard touchdown reception from Shuman and Davis Baldwin booted a 33-yarder to give the Cats a 17-7 cushion, but with 1:52 left in the first, Radcliff hooked up with Jordan Palmer for a 23-yard score.

The second quarter would be controlled by defense and miscues. When all was said and done, the two teams combined for 14 fumbles, with each team losing four apiece. The Wildcats would force five total turnovers on the day with their smashmouth defense, but Norcross gained the lead late in the second quarter after a controversial swing pass to the flats was ruled a fumbled and was recovered by the Blue Devils deep in Valdosta territory. Just one play later, the tides turned when backup Max Tracey connected with Robert Sims for a 22-yard touchdown to take a 21-17 lead into the half.

In the third period, the fireworks were on display again, highlighted by back-to-back-to-back touchdowns on consecutive plays. Radcliff rumbled 42 yards to give Norcross a short-lived 27-17 lead before Jayce Rogers returned the ensuing kickoff 99 yards. Not to be outdone, Norcross’ Jacobe Burrell sprinted his way through the Wildcat special teams and brought an 89-yarder to the house to regain a 34-24 lead.

Valdosta would go on to cash in on a Norcross turnover and score on a three-yard JJ Strickland run to cut the lead back to three at 34-31. But as if there were two separate games being played in the first and third quarters compared to the second and fourth, sloppy play and defense dominated the final frame. At times it looked as if Norcross was going to put the game away, but would fumble the ball right back to the Wildcats allowing them a chance to stay in it. Then when Valdosta would get the ball back in position to regain the lead, the Cats would squander opportunities of their own. No sequence had to be more frustrating for coach Rance Gillespie than when the Wildcats forced a fumble on the opening play of Norcross’ second drive of the fourth quarter. Valdosta would fall on the ball but subsequently fumbled the ball right back to the Blue Devils on the very next play.

Valdosta had one last breath when it held Norcross and forced a punt, but the Cats were faced with the tall task of driving 97 yards with zero timeouts remaining. Shuman, who finished 16-of-33 with 234 yards and two touchdowns, was able to drive the Wildcats to the Norcross 47-yardline with 13 seconds remaining, but an incompletion left Valdosta with one second left on the clock and Shuman’s hail mary would fall short at the 7-yardline.

Radcliff was a thorn in the side of the tough-nosed Valdosta defense, passing for 27 yards and a touchdown while adding 130 yards on the ground and two scores.

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One Response to “Norcross Holds Off Valdosta in Sloppy, Yet Thrilling Game”

  1. Morrell Productions
    August 24, 2015 at 12:15 pm #

    Northside Warner Robins vs North Cobb
    “Epic Barn burner!!!”
    Enjoy and Share

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