Collins Hill receiver Grant McDonald (18) catches a long pass for a touchdown past Walton’s Chad Clay (4) during Friday night’s state playoff game at Collins Hill. (Photo: Karl L. Moore)
SUWANEE — Kevin Reach insists the first round of the playoffs gives him the biggest scare.
“I always felt like this first game is tough, getting past the first round, I always felt like that’s a huge win,” the Collins Hill head coach said. “It’s a whole new season and you don’t know how the kids are going to react; the butterflies and you are one-and-done. You don’t know how they are going to perform in the playoffs.”
Reach got to relax Friday, and he got to relax early.
The Eagles rode a near-perfect first-half effort from its defense and four Tyler Henderson touchdowns to an easy 41-7 win over visiting Walton.
“We just stayed aggressive and stuck with our game plan even though it was raining,” Reach said. “The kids did a great job, did exactly what we were looking for.”
Five times in the first half, the Collins Hill defense, aided by Walton’s punting, gave the Eagles’ attack the ball on the Raiders side of the field. Four of those times, the Eagles turned the good field position into touchdowns building a dominating 28-0 halftime lead. The longest drive of the first half was the Eagles’ first, totaling 48 yards. A 43-yard pass from Tyler Herman to Quentin Jones set up the first of three Henderson first-half touchdown runs. On the next scoring drive, Walton’s rugby-style punter mis-kicked a punt to set up the Eagles on the Raiders’ 38. Henderson ended that drive with a 9-yard score, breaking a tackle at the line of scrimmage and bouncing out to the pylon.
Herman threw an interception on the Eagles’ next drive, but the defense answered with one of its own when Jordan Bertrand picked off the Raiders’ Price Wilson two plays later. The interception set up a Henderson 1-yard score to cap a 38-yard drive
Already leading 21-0, the Eagles took over on the Raiders’ 46 following another angled punt. It took five plays, but Collins Hill finished off its overwhelming first half with a 35-yard touchdown pass from Herman to Grant McDonald with 19 seconds remaining before the break.
The scoring of the first half looked impressive, but the Eagles’ defense did much of the dominating. In the first two quarters, Collins Hill gave up just two first downs and allowed the Raiders just 54 yards of offense.
“Last week we weren’t as physical as we needed to be,” senior linebacker Jonathan Thomas said of the defense giving up 34 points to Mill Creek. “We wanted to come out and be more physical and in the first half we did that perfectly.”
It didn’t get much worse in the second half.
After an uninspired first possession, Collins Hill punted from near its end zone and gave Walton the ball near midfield. It took a conversion on fourth-and-10, but the Raiders put together their one scoring drive, going 56 yards in 10 plays to make it 28-7.
Like the interception from the first half, Collins Hill answered the challenge immediately. On the first play of the next possession, Henderson sprinted down the middle of the field for a 60-yard score and his fifth and final touchdown of the game. The senior finished with 108 yards rushing on 22 carries.
“That’s how we are, they’ll overcome adversity,” Reach said. “Our kids, they don’t panic. We’ve overcome adversity.”
The Eagles followed the quick score with a game-sealing 12-play drive to finish off the Raiders. Herman punched the ball in from 1-yard out after completing 4 of his 5 passes on the drive. Herman ended the game with 207 yards on 14 of 20 passing with one touchdown and an interception despite a playing in a driving rain for most of the first half.
“We got the first hurdle over with and we played like I knew we could,” Reach said.
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HIGHLIGHTS: Collins Hill vs. Walton Football
Highlights from the Collins Hill vs. Walton playoff football game on Nov. 15, 2013.
COLLINS HILL 41, WALTON 0
Walton 0 0 7 0 — 7
Collins Hill 7 21 13 0 — 41
Collins Hill: Tyler Henderson 2 run (Ian Morrison kick) 5:39
Collins Hill: Henderson 9 run (Morrison kick) 8:31
Collins Hill: Henderson 1 run (Morrison kick) 2:49
Collins Hill: Grant McDonald 35 pass from Tyler Henderson (Morrison kick) 0:19
Walton: D.J. Smith 12 run (Christian Lewis kick) 6:23
Collins Hill: Henderson 60 run (kick failed) 6:07
Collins Hill: Herman 1 run (Morrison kick) 1:07
Walton --- CHill
First downs 10 --- 13
Rushes-yards 32-113 --- 29-143
Passing yards 51 --- 207
Comp-Att-Int 6-21-21 --- 4-21-1
Fumbles-lost 0-0 --- 2-0
Penalties-yards 7-62 --- 6-50
RUSHING — Walton: K.K. Brooks 19-100; Smith 5-19; Garrett Eldred 5-3; Zach Williams 1-2; Price Wilson 2-(-11). Collins Hill: Henderson 22-108; Dwayne Smith 1-18; Herman 4-12; Ari Benoit 2-5.
PASSING — Walton: Wilson 6-21-2, 51. Collins Hill: Herman 14-20-1, 207; Connor Wallace 0-1-0, 0.
RECEIVING — Walton: Chad Clay 3-42; Henry Rowling 1-6; Jackson Donnell 1-5; Brooks 1-(-2). Collins Hill: Quentin Jones 3-85; McDonald 5-64; Rhyan England 4-36; C.J. Davis 2-22.