For the second week in a row, No. 4 Mill Creek put on a defensive clinic. Better yet, it put on a defensive clinic against its rival Dacula.
The Hawks shut down the Falcons high-powered offense for a 20-7 victory at Barron Field on Friday night.
Mill Creek (3-0) has now beaten Dacula (0-2) in three consecutive seasons and limited the Falcons to only 14 total points in those three games. On Friday, the Hawks forced the Falcons into three turnovers, had five sacks and gave up only 174 total yards. Last week against Stevenson, the Hawks relinquished just 137 yards.
“The kids are playing so well, reading their keys, not making mistakes and even if they do they are recovering so fast,” Mill Creek coach Shannon Jarvis said. “The kids came out and played fast tonight.”
In the first half, the Hawks capitalized off two Falcons turnovers to go up 13-0 at halftime.
Defensive back Jacob Allen undercut a throw by Falcons quarterback Shayne Buckingham on the first drive of the game for the interception. Although they couldn’t advance the football after taking over on the Dacula 29-yard line, Hawks’ place kicker Matt Campbell nailed a 47-yard field goal to open the scoring.
Campbell also hit a 37-yard field goal later in the first half to put the Hawks up 6-0.
Then with time winding down in the half, South Carolina commit Jonathan Gipson punched the football out to hands of Falcons wide receiver Kenny Severe and recovered the fumble.
“Our coaches are always telling us to ‘get it out of there.’” Gipson said. “It was great technique and I just got it out of there.”
Quarterback Brady Longenecker did the rest, leading the Hawks down the field for a speedy 53-yard 47-second drive that took only three plays. Longenecker had a run of seven yards, a pass of 26 yards and finally a 20-yard touchdown throw to running back Rafael Morales, who made a couple nice jukes en route to the end zone.
The defensive line was key for the Hawks on Friday night. The front four consistently won the battle in the trenches and put Buckingham under pressure. To go along with the five sacks, the Hawks front four only allowed an average of 1.5 yards per carry. This was to a Falcons offense that rushed for 231 yards in their first game of the season.
“Everyone has to do their role,” Jarvis said. “To stop their run game, you have to have a guy on dive, someone on pitch and someone on the quarterback. That goes back to eye discipline and we were fundamentally sound tonight. No one was out there being a renegade tonight.”
Longenecker threw his second touchdown pass of the game – a 35-yarder -- to receiver Austin Williams 19 seconds into the fourth quarter. The senior quarterback had his moments of struggle on Friday night though. He was only 6-of-13 for 76 yards with two interceptions (both picked by Harvard commit Michael Burrell). One of Burrell’s interceptions set his team up at the Hawks 21-yard line, however the Falcons turned the ball over on downs four plays later.
Dacula eventually got on the scoreboard with 37 seconds left in the game when Buckingham pushed his way into the end zone from 1-yard out.
“Hats off to them, but I thought our fight to the finish was good,” Dacula coach Tommy Jones said. “I was proud of our guys. Anytime you can get points up on the board, you want to. Doesn’t matter if the game is almost over.”
Stat of intrigue:
Mill Creek was 37 seconds away from posting its 11th shutout in the last three seasons. Dacula quarterback Shayne Buckingham scored on a fourth-and-goal from the 1-yard line with under a minute remaining in the game to spoil the shutout.
3-0: 7:39- 47-yard field goal by Matt Campbell
6-0: 3:26- 37-yard field goal by Matt Campbell
13-0: :31- 20-yard touchdown pass from Brady Longenecker to Rafael Morales
20-0: 11:41- 35-yard touchdown pass from Brady Longenecker to Austin Williams
20-7: :37- 1-yard touchdown run by Shayne Buckingham
Unofficial Player Stats:
QB Brady Longenecker: 6/13, 76 yards, 2 touchdowns, 2 INTs; 5 carries, 31 yards
RB Uriah Leverette: 12 carries, 51 yards
RB Rafael Morales: 10 carries 44 yards; 2 catches, 15 yards, 1 touchdown
WR Austin Williams: 1 catch, 35 yards, 1 touchdown
QB Shayne Buckingham: 13/22, 127 yards; 13 carries, 10 yards, 1 touchdown
RB Tre McMillian: 6 carries, 9 yards
RB Will Stovall: 8 carries, 10 yards
WR Kenny Severe: 9 catches, 89 yards