ALPHARETTA -- One of these days, they'll come up with a name for it. But, for now, it will simply be known as the drive that brought Mill Creek back for a thrilling 41-39 win over Alpharetta in the first round of the Class AAAAAA football state playoffs at Raider Stadium.
Bryson King nailed a 25-yard field with seven seconds remaining to give Mill Creek the two-point win and a home date next Friday night against Brookwood. It capped a high-scoring affair that saw Mill Creek running back Jacorey Lewis rush for a school-record 335 yards.
"I can't say enough about this time and the way they kept working and never got down, especially after the blocked field goal in the second half and when (Alpharetta) took the lead late," said Mill Creek head coach Shannon Jarvis. "This win is about our guys not letting self-doubt get to them. Alpharetta had taken all the momentum about four times and we just wouldn't let it get to us. There were so many shifts in momentum, but we were steady on both sides of the ball and it paid off in the end."
Trailing 39-38 after Alpharetta had scored on a 33-yard touchdown pass and converted a two-point conversion with 2:19 to go in the game, Mill Creek took over on its own 14 with 2:13 remaining and three timeouts. But the eventual game-winning drive didn't get off to a good start as Mill Creek misfired on three straight passes to set up a do-or-die fourth-and-10. That's when Daniel David connected with Michael Cheeks on a 25-yard pass up the right sideline to give Mill Creek new life and a first down at its own 39. From there, Mill Creek went to work on the ground with Jacorey Lewis, DeVozea Felton and David doing the damage and moving down to the Alpharetta 3. After a penalty and an incomplete pass put the ball at the 8, King came on to drill the game-winner to complete the 14-play, 86-yard march to victory.
It was a rollercoaster journey for the sophomore kicker, who had made a 32-yarder to start the game but also had two field goals blocked -- one returned for a TD that tied the game at 24-24 -- and also lost his regular holder during the game to injury.
"I knew they were going to try and ice me, but I focused on those two uprights and put it through there," said King. "I had to block out what had happened earlier and get it done this time."
Mill Creek had jumped out to a 17-0 lead midway through the second quarter on a 31-yard field goal from King and TD runs of 1 and 14 yards from Lewis.
King's field goal got Mill Creek on the scoreboard first and finished a 17-play, 77-yard drive that came with 8:40 to go in the second quarter. Then Lewis' second scoring run came after a Chris Dickhute interception as the Hawks built a 17-point advantage with only 3:02 left in the opening half.
But Alpharetta put together an eight-play, 64-yard drive as Josh Dobbs hit Adam Schildhammer on a 13-yard scoring pass to make it 17-7 with 52 seconds remaining in the first half.
Alpharetta came right back and turned an interception into a 30-yard field from Thomas Waller as time expired to cut the Mill Creek lead to 17-10.
Waller had missed from 35 yards, but Mill Creek ran into the kicker to give Alpharetta another shot and the junior connected.
The two teams traded touchdowns in the third quarter as Lewis scored on runs of 37 and 43 yards for Mill Creek while Alpharetta got a scoring pass of 17 yards to Daniel Clements and a return of a blocked field goal by Sefohn Perry of 92 yards. That gave Mill Creek a 31-24 lead heading to the crazy fourth quarter and Lewis scored his fifth TD of the night on a 13-yard run to give the Hawks a 14-point advantage at 38-24.
But no lead seemed safe in this game and Alpharetta answered with two more TD passes from Dobbs.
And it was on the final scoring drive that Alpharetta rolled the dice and went for two and the win, which worked as the Raiders gained their only lead of the night with 2:19 to go in the game.
Lewis gained his 335 yards on 37 carries and scored all five Mill Creek touchdowns while David was 8 of 19 for 139 yards.