Mill Creek 43, North Cobb 7

Mill Creek took advantage of great field position in the first half, scoring on six of its seven possessions in building a 36-0 lead, and coasted to a 43-7 victory over North Cobb in a matchup of top-five teams in the second round of the Class 7A playoffs Friday in Kennesaw.

Junior Cam Robinson ran for 136 yards and two touchdowns for the third-ranked Hawks (11-1), who advanced to the quarterfinals for the third time in four seasons. Mill Creek, the No. 2 seed from Region 8, will be at home next week to face Region 2 runner-up Westlake (9-3), which advanced with a 30-28 victory over Parkview.

No. 5 North Cobb, the Region 5 champion, finished the season 9-3.

Mill Creek’s averaging starting position in the first half was the North Cobb 49, but the Hawks were able to score at will no matter where they started.

The Hawks went 74 yards in six plays on their opening drive, taking a 7-0 lead on a 50-yard halfback pass from Trajen Greco to Makhail Wood. They got the ball back two plays later when Jamal Anderson intercepted a pass at the line of scrimmage and returned it 19 yards to the North 2-yard line. Caleb Downs capped off the short drive with a 1-yard touchdown run for a 14-0 lead with 7:05 to play in the first quarter.

Robinson scored on runs of 2 and 8 yards in the first three minutes of the second quarter, and Downs followed on the next possession with his second touchdown on a 5-yard run.

Jacob Ulrich kicked a 29-yard field goal on the final play of the second quarter for a 36-0 lead.

“That’s kind of what we’ve done,” Mill Creek coach Josh Lovelady said. “That’s our M.O. We’ve got great special teams that can pin people down. Our defense took advantage of some opportunities, and our offense got some quick scores, running and throwing the ball.”

Mill Creek scored again on the opening drive of the second half, going 65 yards in seven plays and taking a 43-0 lead on Hayden Clark’s quarterback sneak.

Clark ran for 20 yards on seven carries and was 11-of-16 passing for 96 yards, putting him just over 1,900 passing yards for the season. He attempted just two passes in the second half. Robinson’s 136 yards put him over 1,200 for the year, with 16 touchdowns.

No. 5 North Cobb (9-3) was a region champion this season for the third consecutive season but was knocked out of the playoffs in the second round for the third straight year. Unlike the previous playoff losses to Lowndes and Roswell, which went down to the wire, this one had been decided by halftime.

Mill Creek kept the Warriors’ offense, which came in averaging 30.2 points per game, pinned up all night. In the first half, North Cobb had just three first downs, ran three plays or less on five of its seven possessions and was outgained 264-30.

North Cobb’s offense still had just 43 yards until its final offensive play of the night, an 83-yard touchdown run by David Eziomume with 4:45 remaining. For the game, Mill Creek had a 409-126 advantage in total yards. All of those yards for the Warriors came from the running game, as they were just 1-for-12 passing for zero yards.

“It starts with our kids’ buy-in,” Lovelady said. “Our defensive staff did a great job with the game plan. It was option football. Their offense is electric. They’ve got three running backs, their quarterback is obviously a great player and they’ve got guys outside. Our kids bought in and dialed in this week and executed the game plan well.”

Mill Creek - 14-22-7-0 - 43

North Cobb - 0-0-0-7 - 7

First quarter

M - Makhail Wood 50 pass from Trajen Green (Jacob Ulrich kick), 9:20

M - Caleb Downs 1 run (Ulrich kick), 7:05

Second quarter

M - Cam Robinson 2 run (kick failed), 11:48

M - Robinson 8 run (kick failed), 9:01

M - Downs 5 run (Ulrich kick), 3:41

M - Ulrich 29 field goal, 0:00

Third quarter

M - Hayden Clark 1 run (Ulrich kick), 9:14

Fourth quarter

N - David Eziomume 83 run (Javy Morales kick), 4:45