Collins Hill’s Rhyan England (7) gets in for the touchdown over Mill Creek’s Braden Canamare (14) during Friday night’s game at Mill Creek. (Photo: Karl L. Moore)
HOSCHTON — If there’s one team that will be battle tested for the state playoffs, it is a Collins Hill team that had to rally from two touchdowns down to take a 45-34 win over Mill Creek in a rugged Region 7-AAAAAA game Friday night at Markham Field.
With the victory, Collins Hill (9-1, 7-1) clinched a share of the region crown for the first time since 2004 and a berth in the state playoffs next Friday. The Eagles earned a No. 2 seed later Friday night in a coin flip, giving them a home playoff matchup with Walton in the first round.
Tyler Henderson had 16 rushes for 194 yards and Tyler Herman completed 24 of 34 passes for 251 yards for Collins Hill.
“This is our first region championship since 2004 and only our second in school history,” said Collins Hill head coach Kevin Reach. “It was one of our main goals when got started. It is an emotional win for us and we feel like we just beat a playoff-caliber team (in Mill Creek). This is such a tough region and we knew (Mill Creek) would play us tough. I’m just thankful we were able to come back and then hang on.”
Collins Hill scored two touchdowns in the opening 1:35 of the second half to break at 14-all tie at the half as Henderson got the second-half rally going with a 74-yard run on the second play from scrimmage.
That put the Eagles ahead 21-14 lead just 36 seconds into the third quarter.
After an interception by Rhyan England on Mill Creek’s ensuing drive, Henderson scored on the very next play on a 9-yard run just 59 seconds later and Collins Hill was suddenly ahead 28-14.
But Mill Creek wasn’t going away quietly as the Hawks answered right back with a pair of TDs of their own in a 35-point third quarter to tie it at 28-28.
DeVozea Felton hauled in a 79-yard scoring strike from Daniel David on the first play after Henderson’s second TD to cut the Collins Hill lead to 28-21.
After Collins Hill missed a 33-yard field goal, David got loose on a 73-yard run and Mill Creek was right back in it at 28 apiece with 3:53 remaining in the third quarter.
But Collins Hill reclaimed the lead for good less than two minutes later when Grant McDonald snatched a 28-yard pass from Herman to make it 35-28.
From there, Collins Hill took over as the Eagles added a Henderson 35-yard run and a CC Madkins’ 34-yard field goal in the fourth quarter to increase the advantage to 45-28.
Mill Creek, which finishes its season at 6-4 overall and 4-4 in the region, closed out the scoring with a 12-yard pass from David to Eric Ritland with 1:07 remaining.
Mill Creek started out well as the Hawks went on a 15-play, 80-yard drive that was capped off by David’s 10-yard pass to David Curry to make it 7-0.
Mill Creek came right back on its second possession and put together a 10-play, 80-yard march as Felton raced in from four yards out on the third play of the second quarter for a 14-0 lead for the Hawks.
But Collins Hill settled in and answered with an eight-play, 73-yard drive to cut the Mill Creek lead to 14-7 when Herman found England on a 26-yard scoring pass.
Then it was the Collins Hill defense that came up with the big play as the Eagles stopped a Mill Creek fake punt at the Hawks’ 45.
From there, Collins Hill took just five plays to tie it at 14-all as Herman connected with Quentin Jones on a 10-yard scoring pass with 4:24 remaining in the opening half.
David threw for 203 yards and rushed for 113 more to lead Mill Creek.
COLLINS HILL 45, MILL CREEK 34
Collins Hill 0 14 21 10 - 45
Mill Creek 7 7 14 6 - 34
Mill Creek: David Curry 10 pass from Daniel David (Bryson King kick) 6:38
Mill Creek: DeVozea Felton 4 run (King kick) 10:07
Collins Hill: Rhyan England 26 pass from Tyler Herman (Ian Morrison) 9:01
Collins Hill: Quentin Jones 10 pass from Herman (Morrison) 4:24
Collins Hill: Tyler Henderson 74 run (Morrison kick) 11:24
Collins Hill: Henderson 9 run (Morrison kick) 10:25
Mill Creek: Felton 79 pass from David (King kick) 10:07
Mill Creek: David 73 run (King kick) 3:53
Collins Hill: Grant McDonald 28 pass from Herman (Morrison kick) 2:14
Collins Hill: Henderson 35 run (Morrison kick) 10:38
Collins Hill: CC Madkins 34 FG, 2:34
Mill Creek: Eric Ritland 12 pass from David (pass failed) 1:07