Collins Hill’s Quentin Jones (11) soars into the end zone over Central Gwinnett’s Chris Shelling (1) for a touchdown during week one of high school football action in Lawrenceville Friday. (Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan)
LAWRENCEVILLE — Collins Hill started the 2012 season with a loss at home to Central Gwinnett. But turnabout is fair play, and on Friday night, the Eagles returned the favor.
Riding a solid effort from its defense and a quality start from quarterback Tyler Herman, the Eagles (1-0) opened up 2013 with a 22-0 shutout of Central at Tally Johnson Field, avenging a 27-21 loss at home to the Black Knights at the start of last year.
“We got beat by this team last year and that was kind of our rallying cry,” Collins Hill head coach Kevin Reach said. “Our defense showed up tonight and I was real proud of our effort.”
Collins Hill’s defense held Central to 152 total yards, 108 through the air and 42 on the ground, forcing two turnovers along the way. While those turnovers didn’t lead to any points for Collins Hill, it still went a long way in keeping the Central offense on its own sideline.
That gave the Eagle offense more time on the field for Herman, who came through with 236 yards passing on 19 of 33 attempts with two touchdowns and two interceptions.
“Herman made some good throws at times and at other times, he forced things a little bit,” Reach said. “But those are things we can correct. Any time you come out for your first game in Gwinnett, it’s going to be tough and I thought he had a good game.”
The Eagles wasted no time in getting on the board as Collins Hill took its first possession 62 yards on seven plays, ending the drive when Herman hooked up with Quentin Jones for an 11-yard TD.
On the PAT, Central (0-1) was flagged twice for offsides, giving Collins Hill the opportunity to go for two. Tyler Henderson would successfully run in the conversion, putting the Eagles up 8-0.
Collins Hill would also threaten on its next possession, but Central’s defense forced the first of three Eagle turnovers on the night, getting the first one with an interception from Charles King inside the Black Knight 20.
The second of those turnovers forced by the Central defense also stopped another drive by the Eagles. This time, it was a fumble from receiver Grant McDonald inside Central’s 20, leaving the score at 8-0 at the half.
“Our effort was there on both sides but we didn’t execute the way we wanted,” Central head coach Todd Wofford said. “We hope to come back with the same intensity but we’ve got to execute better.”
Collins Hill opened the second half with the ball but Central (0-1) forced a three-and-out, giving the Black Knights excellent field position after Chris Shelling returned the punt to the Eagle 48.
The Black Knights quickly picked up a first down, put the drive would quickly stall with Central eventually turning the ball over on downs after failing to convert on fourth-and-six.
With the momentum gained from the fourth-down stop, Collins Hill needed just five plays to turn it into points, capping off the drive when Henderson took a direct snap in the Wildcat formation and raced in 40 yards for the score.
Henderson was the game’s leading rusher, tallying 101 yards on 22 carries with one TD.
On its next possession, Collins Hill effectively put the game out of reach with its third TD of the night, this time getting a 60-yard score on a middle screen from Herman to Rhyan England.
England was one of seven Eagles to catch a pass, hauling in two receptions for 66 yards and a score. Henderson also had a good night with six catches for 36 yards, while McDonald had four receptions for 51 yards.
While Collins Hill received a solid game for its quarterback, the same could not be said for Central as Eric Forrest and Nate Hartford were each shuffled in back and forth in an attempt to find a flow with its offense. While both signal callers had flashes of success, the end result was far from what Central was accustomed to last year behind Eman Westmoreland.
“With this offense we run, the quarterback has to be the leader and get everything going,” Wofford said. “Tonight, both guys laid an egg. I’ll figure out what each guy can do this and figure out which one is the right one to lead us. I’m not going to go back and forth with two guys like I did tonight.”
Forrest finished with 87 yards on 11 of 16 attempts and one interception, while Hartford was 2-for-9 for 21 yards and one pick.
COLLINS HILL 22, CENTRAL GWINNETT 0
Collins Hill 8 . 0 . 14 . 0 . — 22
Central 0 . 0 . 0 . 0 . — 0
Collins Hill: Quentin Jones 15 pass from Tyler Herman (Tyler Henderson run) 7:34
Collins Hill: Henderson 40 run (Ian Morrison kick) 6:14
Collins Hill: Rhyan Englad 60 pass from Herman (Morrison kick) 4:05