By BRANDON RICHARDSON
Coming in as the underdog, the Hawks of Mill Creek High School proved they were the superior team after defeating the Raiders of Alpharetta High School 41-39.
After a scoreless first quarter, MCHS took nearly eight minutes off the clock with 16 plays to take a 3-0 lead in the second quarter. The 32-yard field goal by kicker Bryson King was only his second on the season. Alpharetta was only able to convert one first down and was forced to punt.
On the next drive, senior running back Jacorey Lewis did what he has done all season long and that’s score touchdowns. Lewis touched the ball all four plays on the drive including a 52-yard reception that brought the Hawks to the 1-yard line. On the next play, Lewis punched one in for his first touchdown of the night.
An interception by defensive back Chris Dickhute gave the Hawks a chance to add cushion to their lead. On his third straight carry of the drive, Lewis scored his second touchdown of the night on a 14-yard run.
Despite only taking a 7-point lead into the half, the MCHS game plan seemed to be working as the Hawks’ defense dominated the first half. They held the state leader in passing yards to nine completions, 104 yards, one touchdown and forced one interception. The 22 rushing attempts by the Hawks kept the ball out of the talented hands of Josh Dobbs, allowing Alpharetta to have only 17 pass attempts.
Both teams found their offensive groove going into halftime and came out scoring in the second half. MCHS received the ball first and the drive began with a 26-yard Lewis run and he finished the drive with a 37-yard touchdown run.
The Raiders responded with a score of their own but kept the momentum on their side when they blocked a field goal attempt by Mill Creek. Alpharetta took the ball 94 yards down the field for the score.
The Hawks returned to Lewis on their next drive. He responded with a 15-yard run followed by a 43-yard touchdown run. A sack by linebacker Michael Leonard resulted in a 15-yard loss for theRaiders’ offense, ultimately ending their next drive. Lewis achieved his fifth touchdown of the night on the next drive, giving the Hawks another comfortable lead on the night. After a sack by defensive tackle Kelsey Griffin, the Raiders answered when Dobbs threw this third touchdown pass on the night.
“We could never get more than two touchdowns up on [AHS] and two touchdowns to them is nothing,” said Mill Creek Head Coach Shannon Jarvis.
The next drive included six straight runs by Lewis including a 30-yard run to bring the Hawks into a position to score. On third and two, the Hawks were stopped behind the line of scrimmage and attempted another field goal. The snap was bobbled and the Hawks came up scoreless yet, they kept a 7-0 lead.
The MCHS defense didn’t let Dobbs set his feet many times on the night even on his touchdown passes but, when he did set his feet he was able to throw his second biggest pass of the game — a 33-yard pass to wide receiver Daniel Clements. Dobbs used his scrambling abilities to complete a 2o-point conversion with 2:19 left in the game, giving them their first lead of the night at 39-38.
There are not many games that can compare to the excitement that this matchup brought as MCHS had nearly two minutes to keep their season alive. After no success on their first three attempts to achieve a first down, David completed a 25-yard pass on the sideline that was well defended to wide receiver Michael Cheeks to keep the drive alive. Lewis continued his big game with short yet effective runs that eventually placed the Hawks at the 2-yard line with less than 20 seconds to go.
The Hawks would have preferred to reach the end zone but it gave King the opportunity to seal the game winning field goal and he did just that.
“Coach [knows] me and he knew I was [going to] make it,” said King.
Mill Creek will face the Broncos of Brookwood High School next week in the second round of the playoffs at 7:30 p.m.