Class AAAAAAA blog: Stakes were high in McEachern-Hillgrove game

The Hillgrove-McEachern rivalry is one of the best in Class AAAAAAA, and Friday night’s game might go down as the most discussed in series history.

Each team entered 5-0. McEachern was ranked No. 2, Hillgrove No. 6. It was the Region 3-AAAAAAA opener for both. These are schools five miles apart in Powder Springs, and one or the other has won the region title nine of the past 10 seasons.

Hillgrove, trailing 19-14, ran a play from McEachern’s 2-yard line with 15 seconds left. Quarterback Matthew McCravy got loose on a keeper and was running toward the corner of the end zone. He dived toward the pylon and reached out and touched it with the football.

Touchdown? No. Officials ruled him down inside the 1-yard line, and the clock ran out. Though the game was televised and video captured the play, there’s no instant-replay rule in Georgia high school football. McEachern walked off with the victory - and a big one.

For McEachern, the win set up the Indians to play No. 5 Marietta next week for what likely will decide the region championship, although unranked North Cobb also is 1-0 in region play.

For Hillgrove, it was the end of a 23-game winning streak in the regular season. What’s more, Hillgrove likely will need to beat fifth-ranked Marietta later this season or face a road playoff game at Lowndes or Colquitt County. Regions 1 and 3 - the two strongest in the state - have the misfortune of being paired against each in the first round this season.

So yes, the McEachern-Hillgrove game was big Friday night, a game that won’t soon be forgotten.

Four more games of note this week:

*Marietta brings North Paulding to earth: Marietta (5-1, 1-0) got a 49-21 victory over North Paulding (5-0, 0-1), which came in undefeated. Marietta, seeking its first region title since 2005, gets McEachern at home next week. The winner will be in the driver's seat of Region 3. Marietta hasn't won a region title since 2005.

*Grayson does the same to Shiloh: Grayson (5-1, 1-0) earned a 45-7 win Thursday over Shiloh (6-0, 1-1), which came in undefeated. Shiloh, which under new coach Tino Ierulli has clinched its first winning season since 2003, remains a feel-good story this season, but Grayson doesn't have 101 wins this decade for nothing. Grayson plays at Archer (3-2, 0-0) next week for what most figure will decide the region championship.

*North Gwinnett sends message in Region 6: North Gwinnett beat Mill Creek 45-3. That's the Bulldogs' 17th straight region victory. North can all but clinch its third straight region title with a victor next week over Collins Hill (4-2, 2-0).

*Cherokee muddles Region 4 with upset: Cherokee (5-2, 1-1) beat defending Region 4 champion Roswell 21-14. Roswell is 3-2, 0-1. Etowah (4-3, 2-0) might be the front-runner now. The Eagles defeated Woodstock 28-21 on Friday. Walton (3-3, 1-0) beat Lassiter (1-5, 0-1) handily on Friday. Walton plays at Etowah next week for first place.