Defending Class 7A champion Mill Creek flashed its muscle on the defensive line in the first half and rode its solid offensive line and running back Cam Robinson in the second half to outlast Class 3A No. 1 Cedar Grove 56-35 on Friday at Markham Field.
The No. 4-ranked Hawks (4-0) led by 33 points midway in the third quarter when Cedar Grove, on the verge of having to play the final quarter with a running clock, scored three unanswered touchdowns to make it a two-touchdown game.
But the drama ended when Robinson, a 5-foot-9, 194-pound senior scored his third touchdown on a 52-yard run that saw him somehow walk the sideline and outrace the Cedar Grove defenders to the end zone.
“Talk about a tight rope,” Mill Creek coach Josh Lovelady said. “I kept on looking down that sideline and he just tight-roped it and then cut back. He made some very extraordinary cuts and I know it amplifies the respect because I know (the talent) that’s on the other side.
Robinson ran 19 times for 246 yards and scored on runs of 31, 3 and 52 yards. He also caught three passes.
“He’s just a complete back,” Lovelady said. “He can make people miss. He’s not that typical four-yards-and-a-cloud of dust, he can bust one for long runs, and he’ll get bottled up and all of a sudden he’s popping out there. He can be a physical back, but he has the vision and the athleticism to make some great cuts.”
Mill Creek needed everything it could muster to hold off the Saints (2-3), who got a five-touchdown performance from Elliott Colson. He completed 17 of 34 passes for 334 yards including touchdowns of 10, 5, 59, 8 and 10 yards. Colson was sacked four times, but evaded numerous other sacks by twisting, ducking and maneuvering past the pass rush.
“He’s a special player,” Lovelady said. “He’s like Houdini back there. I mean, we’re really athletic and he was dipping and diving. He’s a tough kid, he can throw it, he can run it.”
Colson would have had another touchdown on the first series of the game. Mill Creek’s Jaiden Patterson and Trajen Greco wrestled down the Cedar Grove receiver and managed to strip the ball at the 1, with Greco recovering and running the ball out of the end zone. Mill Creek scored eight plays later when quarterback Shane Throgmartin lobbed a pass over the head of a Cedar Grove defender that Patterson turned into a 52-yard touchdown reception.
“It was huge because it allowed us to go up a little bit there and get a little momentum,” Lovelady said. “Things like that happen when good teams play.”
Throgmartin completed 9 of 12 passes for 102 yards and three touchdowns, adding a 25-yard score to Justin Content and a 7-yarder to Greco. Backup running back Daniel Smith ran four times for 67 yards and two touchdowns.
The Mill Creek defensive line overpowered the Saints in the first half. Defensive linemen Devin Anderson and Miles Gindlesperger and linebackers D.Q. Forkpa, Bryce Conway and Josh Anglin blew up play after play and prevented Cedar Grove’s Boden Walker from getting on track. Walker was limited to 18 yards.
Colson threw touchdowns of 58 and 10 yards to Andrew Leslie, touchdowns of 5 and 59 yards to Devin Carter and an 8-yard touchdown to Lakhi Roland.