The Mill Creek defense, playing without four of its regulars, came away five turnovers and outslugged Collins Hill 24-7 on Friday and give the Hawks the second spot in Region 6-AAAAAAA and the right to host a first-round playoff game.
“It was one of those things of confidence,” Mill Creek coach Josh Lovelady said. “Then it was once we got a turnover whether we could execute on offense.”
The Mill Creek defense kept relentless pressure on Collins Hill quarterback Sam Horn all night. He completed 17 of 33 passes for 143 yards. And Collins Hill got little going on the ground, rushing for just 25 yards.
“Our defense just smothered them,” Lovelady said. “We used the off week to get the kids ready that had to step into those roles and the kids bought in. And (defensive coordinator) coach (Tommy) Gilstrap had a great game plan. We were trying to get some pressure on their quarterback because he can really pick you apart.”
Mill Creek finished the regular season 8-2, 5-1 in the league and finished second behind North Gwinnett. Collins Hill wound up 6-4, 4-2 in the league to place third.
Mill Creek was led by Chancellor Lee-Parker, who ran 22 times for 93 yards and two touchdowns, and Parker Wroble, who carried six times for 91 yards. Wroble also caught six passes for 31 yards.
Turnovers played a part in all three scores in the first half.
Midway in the first quarter, Collins Hill quarterback Samuel Horn had his pass intercepted by Ronald Clark at the 23. Three plays later, Mill Creek quarterback Thurman Harris was intercepted by Travis Hunter, but he the ball stripped during the return and Mill Creek recovered.
Eleven plays later the Hawks scored on Brock Pelligrino’s 21-yard field goal that gave Mill Creek a 3-0 lead.
Mill Creek got the ball back when Caleb Downs intercepted a pass and took it to the 36. After a 20-yard run by Wroble advanced the ball to the 1, Lee-Parker scored on the next play and Mill Creek led 10-0 with 6:40 remaining.
Then it was Collins Hills’ turn to take advantage of a mistake. Mill Creek’s Wroble fumbled the punt return and Logan Birdsong recovered for the Eagles. Collins Hill scored a 1-yard run by James Smith wtih 19 seconds left to cut the score to 10-7.
Mill Creek got the distance it needed midway in the third quarter. Collins Hills’ Justin Richardson fumbled a punt and Khamari Glover recovered for the Hawks at the 5. Two plays later Harris scored on a
keeper to make it 17-7.
Mill Creek’s other score came early in the fourth quarter. The big play was a 32-yard run by Wroble and the score came on a 13-yard carry by Lee-Parker.
“We had been really hammered by injuries,” Lovelady said. “We talked about how we had to stiffen our spine and see who was going to be the strong man. And, by golly, they did, because that’s an awesome offense over there.”
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