Staff Photo: Jason Braverman. Dacula's Michael Collins (16) and Davian McEwan (17) celebrate a touchdown by Collins during Friday's game against Mill Creek.
HOSCHTON — There has been a blowout and three games decided on the final play.
Dacula and Mill Creek added another exciting chapter to their rivalry in the form of a shootout Friday.
Both teams scored on every possession of the second half before lightning halted the game with 4:02 left. When the game resumed after a 98-minute delay, Mill Creek punted and Dacula scored the go-head touchdown for a 34-31 victory.
“Every game has been like this,” Dacula head coach Kevin Maloof said. “I’m so proud of our kids. We made so many mistakes early and they battled back.”
Dacula won the first game in the Battle of Braselton Road in a blowout five years ago. Since then, it’s been a blocked field goal, interception on the final play and a last-second touchdown run that have decided the game.
Friday’s game was no exception with Dacula’s Davian McEwan scoring on an 83-yard pass and Dexter Walker intercepting a pass with 2:32 left to seal the win.
“I told you it would be a good game,” Mill Creek coach Shannon Jarvis said.
Walker rushed for 145 yards, including a 40-yard touchdown in the second quarter for Dacula’s first score. He had also had seven tackles, a forced fumble and fumble recovery on defense. But the senior’s biggest play came when he intercepted John Russ in the final minutes.
“He’s a hell of a football player,” Maloof said. “That’s a big, big play.”
Dacula trailed 14-10 at halftime, but opened the third quarter with an 87-yard touchdown drive. Rocky Capobianco (8 of 15, 198 yards) connected with Michael Collins for a 13-yard touchdown to finish the series and give Dacula its first lead of the game 21-17.
Mill Creek responded with a 13-yard touchdown run by Keshawn Bussey. Hawks kicker Jake Joyner recovered his own onside kick and after a roughing the kicker penalty, Tyler Cierski scored on a one-yard run to make it 31-21.
“That’s something we’ve been working on,” Jarvis said. “We felt like we had the momentum and wanted to keep it.”
Dacula cut the lead after Marcus Cox’s second one-yard touchdown run to make it 31-28 with 7:40 left in the game. Cox finished with 68 yards rushing.
Mill Creek was set to punt the ball with 4:02 left in the game when a lightning delay struck, postponing the game for 98 minutes.
When play resumed, the Dacula needed just two plays before Capobianco hooked up with McEwan for the go-ahead score.
“It’s a big play by some playmakers,” Maloof said.
The first series of the game couldn’t have gone any worse for Dacula. The Falcons were called for two holding penalties and then had the punt blocked by Alonzo Collins and Jacob Wiley recovered it in the end zone for a 7-0 Mill Creek lead.
The Hawks added a 22-yard field goal by Jake Joyner on the next series.
Brandyn Bartlett’s 33-yard kickoff return help set up Dacula’s first score. Dexter Walker had a 40-yard touchdown run on third-and-long to make it a 10-7 game.
Alonzo Collins intercepted Capobianco’s pass and returned it to the 21. Russ hooked up with Devonte Lewis for a 16-yard score to push the Hawks to a 17-7 lead with 3:32 left in the half. Russ was 10 of 17 for 129 yards and Lewis had five catches fro 68 yards.
Dacula stayed in the game with a late TD before the half. Capobianco had a 19-yard pass on fourth down to Marcus Cox. The sophomore reached the one and then scored on the next play to make it 17-14 at halftime.
“Dacula did a good job grabbing the momentum,” Jarvis said.