Walton 34, Archer 7

Walton's Nate Lyons (11) celebrates a touchdown during a GHSA high school football playoff game between the Archer Tigers and the Walton Raiders at Archer High School in Lawrenceville, GA., on Friday, November 19, 2021. (Photo/Jenn Finch)
Caption
Walton's Nate Lyons (11) celebrates a touchdown during a GHSA high school football playoff game between the Archer Tigers and the Walton Raiders at Archer High School in Lawrenceville, GA., on Friday, November 19, 2021. (Photo/Jenn Finch)

Credit: Jenn Finch

Credit: Jenn Finch

The Walton defense came up with three takeaways and Raiders quarterback Jeremy Hecklinski accounted for three touchdowns in a 34-7 win over Archer in the second round of the Class 7A playoffs.

Walton (8-3) advances to the third round and will play at Brookwood on Friday.

“Defensively we played lights out pretty much for that whole game,” said Walton coach Daniel Brunner. “Offensively sometimes we’re our own worst enemy – we had five bad penalties in the first half – but they continue to work and pound away and we got it clicking there when we needed to.”

Walton dominated both sides of the line for most of the game. The Raiders came up with four sacks, two interceptions forced a fumble and limited Archer to 54 yards rushing and 133 passing.

“I feel like we kind of got the best of them as the game went on,” Brunner said. “The first half was critical for us, getting stops and getting that lead coming into halftime.

The Raiders rode the hot hand of Hecklinski, who completed 8 of 9 passes for 192 yards and two touchdowns, a 25-yarder to Nate Lyons and a 49-yarder to Marcus Allen. Walton’s big offensive line helped extend drives by converting six third-down plays.

Zak Rozsman and Hecklinski have been rotating at quarterback, but Rozsman took a hard hit in the first half and was unable to return.

“Unfortunately our senior got knocked out and Jeremy stepped in and finished the job,” Brunner said

Walton got on the board first. After stopping Archer on downs at the 25, the Raiders scored on the next play when Hecklinski connected with Nate Lyons on a 75-yard post pattern with 1:54 left in the first.

Walton scored against after Ashton Woods intercepted Caleb Peevy’s pass at the 36. The Raiders overcame three penalties, converted a couple of third-and-longs and scored when Hecklinski scored on a 20-yard quarterback keeper with 7:56 left in the half.

The Raiders upped the lead to 17-0 at halftime when Lucien Michelin kicked a 24-yard field just before the horn.

Archer had a chance to get back in the game on its first possession of the second half. The Tigers drove to the 20 and Chase Sellers ran it the 8 on second effort when he fumbled and Allen recovered for Walton. The Raiders then drove 85 yards and scored when Allen outjumped two defenders, made a move and scored on a 49-yard connection.

“We had a chance,” Archer coach Andy Dyer said. “When you get into the playoffs you can’t turn the ball over and when you do, you’d better find a way to flip the momentum back. We just weren’t able to do that.”

Walton added a 1-yard scoring run from Austin Williams and a 24-yard field goal from Michelin.

Archer (7-5) avoided the shutout thanks to a 38-yard pass from Peevy to Georgia Tech commit D.J. Moore midway in the fourth quarter. Peevy completed 10 of 19 for 133 yards and two interceptions

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