Class 7A blog: Previews of the 4 quarterfinals

The Brookwood football team prepares to take the field to play Mountain View on Oct. 1, 2021. Brookwood won the game 34-0.
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The Brookwood football team prepares to take the field to play Mountain View on Oct. 1, 2021. Brookwood won the game 34-0.

Credit: Stan Awtrey

Credit: Stan Awtrey

Here are previews of the four quarterfinal games Friday.

The home teams are favored, except in Valdosta, where No. 1-ranked Collins Hill tries to end Lowndes’ 26-game home winning streak.

*Mill Creek (11-1) at Milton (11-1): Mill Creek, ranked No. 4, is noted for its defense but got into a high-scoring affair last week in a 52-30 victory over McEachern. Mill Creek trailed 14-0 in the first quarter but scored the game’s next 45 points. Caleb Downs, a top-50 national junior prospect, intercepted a pass, scored a touchdown and passed for a score. Donovan Journey rushed for 118 yards. Milton, ranked No. 3, had 374 yards by halftime in its 38-21 second-round victory over Marietta. Jordan McDonald rushed for 248 yards, giving him 1,181 on the season. Devin Farrell, committed to Virginia Tech, rushed for 157 yards and passed for 104. Led by Mo Clipper (committed to Tennessee) and Brandon Best (Georgia Tech), and aided by tight end Jack Nickel (Notre Dame), Milton has one of the state’s best offensive lines. Milton and Mill Creek played once before, with Milton winning 24-3 in the 2018 second round on the way to a state title.

*Walton (8-3) at Brookwood (10-2): These two were supposed to play Sept. 3, but the game was canceled over COVID-19 concerns. They did play in 2020, with Brookwood winning 43-32. Dylan Lonergan passed for 318 yards and rushed for a career-high 127 yards. A top-100 national junior prospect, Lonergan has thrown for right at 3,000 yards and 30 touchdowns this season. In the second round, Brookwood beat North Gwinnett 17-14 as J.J. Silva kicked three field goals, including a 36-yarder with 4:16 left, breaking a 14-14 tie. Walton has allowed six or more touchdowns three times, all losses, but the Raiders have tightened up in playoff road victories over Colquitt County (41-17) and Archer (34-7). Walton had four sacks, forced five turnovers and held Archer to 235 total yards last week. Jeremy Hecklinski was 13-of-18 passing for 277 yards. Zak Rozsman was injured in the first half and didn’t return. Both quarterbacks play extensively. Walton is in the quarterfinals for the first time since reaching the 2011 championship game. Brookwood last made the quarters in 2017.

*Grayson (9-3) at Roswell (10-2): This is the first meeting between these two since Grayson beat Roswell 23-20 in overtime for the Class 7A championship. This is Roswell’s first quarterfinal since 2016. Ranked No. 10, Roswell beat No. 2 North Cobb 46-43 last week. North Cobb had the ball with a 43-34 lead and less than two minutes left, but Roswell forced a fumble, scored, recovered an onside kick and scored on the final play, a 7-yard run on fourth-and-goal. Robbie Roper, who ran for both of those touchdowns, was 26-of-35 passing for 288 yards and two touchdowns. In 11 games, Roper has thrown for 2,725 yards and 35 touchdowns, completing 71.2% of his attempts. Grayson, the defending champion, is unranked. The Rams beat Denmark 35-21 in the second round. Grayson clinched it when, leading 28-21, the Rams forced a fumble on an end zone sack and recovered for a touchdown. Grayson QB Rayne Fry, only recently becoming the starter, passed for a season-high 181 yards passing.

*Collins Hill (12-0) at Lowndes (10-2): These two played in the 2020 quarterfinals, with Collins Hill winning 31-14. Sam Horn passed for 371 yards, and Travis Hunter had 11 receptions for 183 yards three touchdowns. Both are seniors now, with Horn committed to Missouri, Hunter to Florida State. Hunter returned from a seven-week injury absence last week and had four receptions for 97 yards and a touchdown and intercepted a pass in a 48-6 victory over Pebblebrook. Collins Hill has been ranked No. 1 since Aug. 29 and is Class 7A’s only unbeaten team. The Eagles haven’t allowed more than 13 points to a Georgia opponent this season. Lowndes, ranked No. 5, set a state record last week by winning for the sixth time when allowing 30 points. That came in a 35-34 victory over Norcross. Lowndes got the winning score when Jacurri Brown threw a 23-yard TD pass to Khris Thomas on fourth-and-16 with 1:17 left. Brown, a four-year starter committed to Miami, has passed for 5,498 career yards and rushed for 4,215 yards with 105 passing or rushing touchdowns. Lowndes has won 26 consecutive games at Martin Stadium, its home field.

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