Class 7A blog: Previews of 4 quarterfinal games

Class 7A is down to eight teams. Here are previews of Friday’s four quarterfinals.

*North Gwinnett (10-2) at Colquitt County (12-0): With No. 1 Buford out, No. 2 Colquitt County is the highest-ranked Class 7A team remaining. North Gwinnett is the only surviving 7A team that GHSF Daily has not ranked at any point. North Gwinnett beat Lambert 38-35 in the second round after letting a 16-0 lead get away. North Gwinnett went ahead for good 38-28 on 310-pound Kayden McDonald’s 9-yard run, his second touchdown, in the final minute of the third quarter. North Gwinnett ran out the final 5:13 after Lambert’s final score. McDonald, a defensive tackle committed to Ohio State, had a 46-yard run during the clinching drive. Colquitt County had an easier time with Harrison, winning 49-27 after allowing two late touchdowns. Neko Fann was 8-of-10 passing for 191 yards, putting him over 2,000 on the season (2,121). Charlie Pace rushed for 142 yards, putting him over 1,000 (1,089). These teams met in the 2017 Class 7A championship game, with North Gwinnett winning 19-17 on a final-play field goal. Colquitt won a rematch 45-0 in the 2018 quarterfinals.

*Walton (10-2) at Carrollton (12-0): Walton, ranked No. 6, beat No. 1 Buford 42-35 in the most-talked-about game of the second round. Jeremy Hecklinski was 21-of-39 passing for 347 yards and three touchdowns. His 43-yard TD pass to Ayden Jackson on a fourth-and-6 with 6:17 left was critical. Jackson and Hunter Teal each had more than 100 yards receiving. Hecklinski, a junior, leads Class 7A in passing yards with 3,355 unofficially. Second is Carrollton’s Julian Lewis with 3,162. (Lewis leads Hecklinski in TD passes 37 to 35.) Lewis, a freshman, was 18-of-26 for 186 yards and two touchdowns last week in a 47-14 victory over Marietta. Bryce Hicks rushed for 81 yards and three touchdowns. Jacob Levy had three tackles for 29 yards in losses. Carrollton, ranked No. 4, intercepted five passes. Both schools made the semifinals last season. Carrollton was in Class 6A, Walton in 7A. This is the first meeting between the two schools.

*Westlake (9-3) at Mill Creek (11-1): Tenth-ranked Westlake beat Parkview 30-28 last week on Omar Camara’s 42-yard field goal with 25 seconds left. R.J. Johnson was 14-of-25 passing for 292 yards and three touchdowns. Johnson has 9,539 passing yards in his career. Jai’Den Thomas rushed for 189 yards. Avieon Terrell, committed to Clemson as a cornerback, had seven receptions for 148 yards. Mill Creek, ranked No. 3, beat No. 5 North Cobb 43-7. Cam Robinson rushed for 135 yards, giving him 1,244 on the season, and Mill Creek held North Cobb to 122 total yards, most of it late on an 83-yard touchdown run. Defensive back Caleb Downs, the state’s No. 1 senior prospect, scored two touchdowns playing offense. Mill Creek set a school record for points in a season (556). Westlake is in the quarterfinals for the third straight season. This is Mill Creek’s third quarterfinal in four seasons. Both have made two previous semifinals but never reached the finals. This is the first meeting between the two.

*Grayson (10-2) at Milton (9-3): These schools lead Class 7A in victories the past five seasons, Grayson with 55, Milton with 54, each with a state title, but they’ve never played each other. Grayson, ranked No. 2 in preseason but unranked now, beat Camden County 28-10 in the second round. Joseph Taylor rushed for 93 yards, giving him 893 on the season. Jeff Davis was 13-of-20 passing for 129 yards, giving him 1,976 on the season. Myles Dawson returned a fumble 66 yards for a touchdown. Grayson led 14-10 at halftime and allowed no points from there. Milton, ranked No. 7, beat Norcross 30-23 in the second round. Scott Moskowitz rushed for 83 yards, giving him 980 on the season, and scored on an 18-yard run with 4:19 left for a 30-16 lead. Norcross never got the ball back with a chance to tie. Luke Nickel was 8-of-12 passing for 151 yards. A sophomore, Nickel has thrown for 2,252 yards this season.