The Grayson Rams are back in the state championship.
Behind a big first half from senior quarterback Chase Brice and the defense, the Rams beat the Mill Creek Hawks 44-26 at home on Friday in the AAAAAAA semifinals.
The Rams (13-1), a No. 1 seed from Region 8 and No. 12 in USA Today’s Super 25 national rankings, will play the Roswell Hornets -- ranked No. 10 nationally -- next Saturday at 8 p.m. at the Georgia Dome. It will be a rematch of last year’s AAAAAA semifinal thriller, which the Hornets won 30-26.
Grayson is seeking its second state title, the first coming in their only championship appearance in 2011.
The Hawks, a No. 1 seed from Region 6 and ranked No. 14 nationally, end their season on a losing note after winning their first 13 games.
Brice, a Clemson commit, threw for 245 yards and four touchdowns in the first half to help the Rams to a 38-14 halftime lead. Brice completed touchdown passes of 10, 17, 25 and 42 yards. The Rams defense got a score from Quinten Thames, who returned an interception 44 yards for a touchdown.
In the second half, the Rams played the clock, committing to the run and settling for punts and two Will VanPamelen field goals. But Mill Creek never got any closer than 41-26 with 10:48 left in the game, and it failed on 2-point conversions on both second half touchdowns.
In all, the Rams defense forced the Hawks into five punts, an interception and three turnovers on downs. The game ended on Grayson’s third sack.
Brice finished 17 of 25 passing from 296 yards. Evan Sturgis was his leading receiver with 7 catches for 117 yards and a touchdown. VanPamelen had field goals of 41, 35 and 20 yards.
Hawks quarterback Cameron Turley finished just 18 of 42 for 224 yards, one touchdown and an interception. Ace Williams caught 4 passes for 93 yards and Adrian Jackson had five catches for 51 yards and a touchdown. Joe Thomas led all rushers with 80 yards on 12 carries.
The Rams are led by Jeff Herron, in his first season with the Rams after taking over for the program’s only coach in Mickey Conn. After 16 seasons, Conn left Grayson to join Dabo Swinney’s staff at Clemson. Conn and Swinney were teammates on Alabama’s 1992 national championship team and roomed together in college.
Herron is in his 27th season as a head coach and has four state titles under his belt from his time at Camden County and Oconee County.
Mill Creek 7 7 6 6 - 26
Grayson 9 29 3 3 - 44
G - Elijah Barnes 17 pass from Chase Brice (kick failed)
G - Will VanPamelen 41 FG
M - Edmond Graham 18 run (Brenton King kick)
G - Kurt Taylor 10 pass from Brice (VanPamelen kick)
G - Evan Sturgill 25 pass from Brice (VanPamelen kick)
G - Quintin Thames 44 interception return (VanPamelen kick)
G - Jamyest Williams 42 pass from Brice (Emmanuel Coulter run)
M - Adrian Jackson 2 pass from Cameron Turley (King kick)
M - Joe Thomas 21 run (pass fail)
G - VanPamelen 35 FG
M - Turley 7 run (kick failed)
G - Van Pamelen 20 FG