DACULA — Opponents had struggled all season to keep Northgate, and more specifically senior running back Cameron Cruver, out of the end zone this season.
One finally did it to perfection on Friday night.
Region 8 champion Dacula was as good as advertised in a 28-0 victory that stymied the Vikings after clinching a trip to the Class 6A state playoffs this season.
Northgate closed its first year under head coach Mike McDonald with a 6-5 record, the program’s fifth straight winning season among the longest streak among Coweta County’s six schools. The stretch came among three coaching changes starting with Tommy Walburn’s retirement in 2016, followed by a one-year stint by Kesley Dalrymple following a promotion from offensive coordinator.
The No. 9 state-ranked Falcons relied on their ground game following a balanced year offensively en route to an 8-2 regular season. Dacula racked up over 275 yards rushing and turned in its third shutout effort of the season.
Northgate’s defense allowed just two touchdowns, both coming on short runs in the second quarter.
Both teams, however, found a tough go early offensively after a rainy week and swapped punts until Dacula’s Dylan Hand stepped in front of one from the Vikings and returned it 21 yards for a 7-0 Falcons lead with just over four minutes left in the first quarter.
The momentum carried over into a scoring drive capped off by Jalen Perry’s 8-yard run that doubled Dacula’s advantage.
Northgate’s offense, led by Cruver’s 1,300-plus yards over 10 games, turned the ball over multiple times capped off by an interception that was returned 25 yards by Perry on defense for a final touchdown with just over eight minutes remaining in the game.
The Falcons (9-2) advance to host Allatoona in next week’s second round.