HOSCHTON - From the first play of the game, it was all Charles Perkins.
The Collins Hill running back rushed around the end on his first carry for 21 yards and never looked back. The junior carried the ball 27 times for 225 yards and a touchdown as Collins Hill trounced Mill Creek 30-0 in a Region 7-AAAAA statement game for the surprise Eagles.
"Every game, I feel like nobody cares we are 6-1, now we are 7-1, everybody overlooks that," Perkins said. "I like that. We come out hungry every game, still."
This one meant more than most. The win all but solidified the Eagles' berth in the playoffs with two weeks remaining in the season and meetings with South Forsyth and Norcross remaining. More than impressive for a team that finished last season 4-6.
It also showed a resilience in the young Eagle team that returned just one offensive starter from last season and lost 21-0 last week to Peachtree Ridge.
"Our kids have practiced hard for the past two weeks to prepare for a night like tonight to give themselves a chance to get into the playoffs," Collins Hill head coach Billy Wells said. "We certainly did that tonight."
Everything Collins Hill did on offense started with Perkins. The senior rushed for 181 yards and a touchdown in the first half, accounting for all but 20 of the Eagles' yards and carrying the ball 18 times. Collins Hill ran 24 plays.
Perkins scored his only touchdown of the half on a 79-yard sprint up the middle, a play after Mill Creek fumbled away its most promising possession of the game on the 19.
The fumble was foreboding of the night the Hawks would have. Mill Creek turned the ball over four times, three on fumbles and an interception. It also turned the ball over on downs.
"If we had turned the ball over like that this year, we probably wouldn't have any wins," said head coach Shannon Jarvis. "There aren't too many ways to dress it up. Scheme-wise we were doing what we wanted to do, but a turnover here, a turnover there kills drives. We couldn't have started any worse and couldn't have played any worse."
The running of Perkins erased poor starting field position and 136 yards of penalties for Collins Hill.
While Perkins piled up yards, Mill Creek's offense tried to establish the run, using three backs, but managing just 123 yards on 26 carries. Of the Hawks' four first-half first downs, three came on the drive that ended with fumble.
The lone bright spot for Mill Creek in the first half was holding Collins Hill to a field goal on its last possession. On the drive, the Eagles got as close as first-and-goal from the 2, but went backward from there before settling for a 34-yard field goal and a 17-0 halftime lead.
The momentum lasted 13 seconds into the second half when Josh Cunningham fielded the kickoff at the 19, cut right, then left and sprinted down the Collins Hill sideline for a 81-yard kickoff return for a touchdown and a 23-0 lead.
Mill Creek fumbled away its next two possessions and Perkins carried the ball on nine of Collins Hill's next 11 plays.
"It was a lot of fun," Perkins said of owning the third quarter. "The (holes) were huge. I just ran through the holes and made my cuts."
From one yard out the standout watched fullback James Reed bull his way into the end zone. Reed ended the game rushing for 19 yards and a touchdown and catching two passes for 32 yards and a touchdown.
The clock did not stop in the fourth quarter with the 30-point margin and Perkins got some rest after contributing to 64 percent of the Eagles' plays.
"It was big win for us," he said. "We come out the underdog every game. We showed them who we are."
Collins Hill 30, Mill Creek 0
Collins Hill: Charles Perkins 79 run (Paul Wilson kick) 4:43
Collins Hill: James Reed 13 pass from Michael Box (Wilson kick) 7:52
Collins Hill: Craig Tanguay 34 FG, 2:19
Collins Hill: Josh Cunningham 81 kickoff return (kick blocked) 11:47
Collins Hill: Reed 1 run (Wilson kick) 0:59
Rushing - Mill Creek: Ed Russ 8-50; Ramael Wilson 10-46; Tyler Cierski 8-27. Collins Hill: Perkins 27-225; Reed 6-19; Taylor Heinicke 1-8; Travis Parker 3-3; Box 2-(-11).
Passing - Mill Creek: Russ 11-20-0, 105. Collins Hill: Box 2-3-0, 32.
Receiving - Mill Creek: Zach Landis 5-56; Wilson 4-14; Cierski 1-20; Brandon Hayman 1-15. Collins Hill: Reed 2-32.