Class 7A blog: Previews of 8 second-round games

The Class 7A playoffs resume Friday night. Here’s a look at each round-of-16 game.

*Marietta (7-4) at Milton (10-1): Marietta was the 2019 Class 7A champion. Milton was the 2018 champion. Marietta beat then-defending champion Milton 38-24 in the 2019 quarterfinals. In the first round, Milton beat Duluth 45-14 after leading 38-0 in the first half. Devin Farrell (committed to Virginia Tech) was 11-of-16 passing for 214 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 60 yards. Jordan McDonald (Central Florida) has rushed for 933 yards. L.T. Overton (five-star junior recruit) had two sacks. Marietta QB Tyler Hughes (Southern) passed for 204 yards and three touchdowns last week – putting him at 3,114 and 40 for the season – in a 28-14 victory over Tift County. Hughes also lead in rushing with 554 yards. Marietta is ranked No. 8; Milton is No. 3. This is one of two games between ranked Class 7A teams (Roswell vs. North Cobb is the other).

*Mill Creek (10-1) at McEachern (7-4): Fourth-ranked Mill Creek has lost only to No. 1 Collins Hill 40-10 and not allowed more than 20 points to any other opponent. The Hawks scored 35 points in the second quarter in a 38-10 victory over West Forsyth last week. Mill Creek had six sacks and held West Forsyth to minus-37 yards rushing. McEachern beat South Gwinnett 34-28 in two overtimes last week. The Indians got a game-clinching defensive stop after Bryce Archie’s 7-yard TD pass to Kaleb Webb. Archie, who is committed to Coastal Carolina, passed for 339 yards. Webb, committed to East Carolina, had nine receptions for 218 yards and two touchdowns. Mill Creek is 2-0 all-time against McEachern, winning close games in 2017 and 2016.

*Walton (7-3) at Archer (7-4): This will be the first meeting between the two. Walton, ranked No. 9, upset No. 6 Colquitt County 41-17 last week, ending Colquitt’s streak of 12 first-round victories. Colquitt had been 18-1 in home playoff games this century. Cade Thompson returned a fumble 97 yards for a touchdown, and Marcus Allen (committed to North Carolina) returned a blocked kick 84 yards for a score. Sutton Smith (Memphis), rushed for 59 yards on 10 carries and set up a score with a 59-yard punt return. Archer has won seven straight games, allowing just 14 points total in that time, after an 0-4 start. The four losses came against teams still in the playoffs. Archer beat Alpharetta 46-7 last week as Chad Alexander rushed for 166 yards (his previous career high was 62) and three long touchdowns. Chase Sellers ran for 108 yards.

*North Gwinnett (6-5) at Brookwood (9-2): This is the lone all-Gwinnett County matchup of the second round. North Gwinnett has won seven of the past eight meetings between the two, most recently 37-2 in 2018, but is the underdog here. North Gwinnett beat South Forsyth 29-15 last week, having the game in hand by the third quarter. Kayden McDonald, a 325-pound top-250 national junior recruit, had seven sacks. Brookwood, ranked No. 7, made quick work of Newnan in a 56-7 victory, leading 42-7 at halftime. Dylan Lonergan was 9-of-14 passing for 233 yards and five touchdowns and rushed for 104 yards on six carries in limited work. A four-star junior recruit, he’s thrown for 2,834 yards and 30 touchdowns. Brookwood is in the second round for the first time since its 2017 semifinal run.

*Grayson (8-3) at Denmark (8-2): This is the only Class 7A second-round game between unranked teams. Grayson is the defending 7A champion. Denmark, in its fourth varsity season, is the only remaining 7A team that’s never made the quarterfinals. Grayson trounced East Coweta 48-14 last week after leading 34-0 at halftime. Joe Taylor rushed for 83 yards and three touchdowns. JoJo Stone, a four-star sophomore recruit, also scored three touchdowns. He’s played quarterback much of the season, but Rayne Fry (108 passing) was solid in the role last week. Denmark advanced on a 23-20 victory over Mountain View after Trey Glymph kicked a 38-yard field goal in the final seconds. Jacob Nelson threw for 180 yards. Amon Williams ran for 121. Lake Thoman had 117 receiving yards. This will be the first meeting between the teams.

*Roswell (9-2) at North Cobb (10-1): Roswell beat North Cobb 42-21 in the 2016 quarterfinals, the most recent time these two played. It was also the most recent time that either one reached the quarters. North Cobb will be favored this time. Ranked No. 2, North Cobb beat Camden County 44-6 last week. Malachi Singleton, a leading state player-of-the-year candidate, passed for 194 yards, rushed for 117 and had a hand in four touchdowns. DeNylon Morrissette (committed to Georgia) had 106 yards receiving, giving him 911 on the season. Roswell, ranked No. 10, beat Meadowcreek 52-8 last week. Robbie Roper passed for 162 yards in limited play and added four TD passes to his season total, now at 33. Sophomore Noah Davenport rushed for a season-high 129 yards.

*Pebblebrook (9-1-1) at Collins Hill (11-0): Pebblebrook beat Parkview 44-41 last week for its first playoff win since 2006. Qamar Grant was 20-of-31 passing for 313 yards and five touchdowns, the last one a 4-yarder to Damion Thompson for the lead with 2:16 left to finish an 11-play, 89-yard drive. Parkview missed a 47-yard field goal as time expired. Another win would put Pebblebrook in the quarterfinals for the first time since 1980. Collins Hill, the 2020 runner-up, is ranked No. 1. Pebblebrook is 0-5 all-time against No. 1-ranked teams. Collins Hill beat Lambert 56-13 last week after leading 42-7 at halftime. Sam Horn (committed to Missouri) was 19-of-23 passing for 257 yards and two touchdowns and scored on 70- and 31-yard runs on his only two attempts. This is the first meeting between the two teams.

*Norcross (8-3) at Lowndes (9-2): Both teams lost in the 2020 semifinals but were left with heavy graduation losses. Lowndes’ task was a tad easier because the Vikings returned AJC Super 11 QB Jacurri Brown, a dual-threat quarterback committed to Miami. The four-year starter was 12-of-20 passing for 225 yards last week in a 45-35 victory over Harrison. In that game, Lowndes tied a state record (held by two others) with its fifth victory while allowing 30 points. Norcross beat Cherokee 28-21 in the first round. The Blue Devils trailed 21-20 with Cherokee driving, but Jonathan Mathis intercepted a pass with 3:52 left, sparking a 69-yard TD drive. Nakai Poole had six receptions for 112 yards. A.J. Watkins, a sophomore quarterback, rushed for 88 yards and was 4-of-6 passing for 69 yards and two touchdowns.