McEachern wins shootout with Hillgrove

High school football fans in Powder Springs had waited a long time for the first-ever meeting of neighborhood rivals McEachern and Hillgrove, and they got their money’s worth Friday night.

McEachern outscored Hillgrove 31-21 in the third quarter and went on to a wild 64-48 victory before a large crowd at Cobb Energy Hillgrove Stadium.

In addition to the 112 points, the teams combined for 1,115 yards of offense.

McEachern got a 26-yard interception return from Chis Okpala, touchdown passes of 67 and 23 yards from Dondre Purnell, a 10-yard scoring pass from Trent Thompson and a 54-yard field goal from Nicholas St. Germain in the decisive third quarter.

But McEachern (5-1 overall, 3-0 in Region 4-AAAAA) couldn’t afford to stop scoring because Hillgrove seemed to have an answer every time. The Hawks (4-2, 1-2) got two third-quarter touchdown passes from Gage Henry to Evan Engram and a 41-yard run by Henry to stay close. In fact, the Hawks outgained McEachern 284-181 in the quarter.

Hillgrove even pulled within 10 points with 2:20 to play when Henry passed 18 yards to Kenyan Drake. But McEachern had one final answer when Purnell ran 46 yards for the final score of the night with 1:11 remaining.

Hillgrove finished with a 607-508 advantage in total offense. Henry was 30-for-44 passing for 466 yards and five touchdowns and rushed for 66 yards on 12 carries. Jojo Marshall and Drake each finished with more than 100 yards receiving.

McEachern was led by Purnell, who was 12-for-16 passing for 252 yards and five touchdowns and had 101 yards and a touchdown rushing. Amba Etta-Tawo caught six passes for 156 yards and two touchdowns.

McEachern led 24-14 after two quarters in which the teams combined for 466 total yards. Okpala scored on a 1-yard run, Purnell had two touchdown passes and St. Germain kicked a 21-yard field goal. But Hillgrove had two touchdown passes from Henry to stay within 10 points.

Hillgrove opened in 2006 to relieve overcrowding in several west Cobb schools, particularly McEachern, about three miles away. The redistricting process was contentious, eventually reaching the courts and the Legislature, and both sides were left with hard feelings. But because Hillgrove played its first four seasons in Class AAAA, the schools had not met before Friday’s game.