POWDER SPRINGS -- A promising start faded away as the game wore on as Mill Creek scored 45 consecutive points, en route to a 52-30 victory over McEachern on Friday in the second round of the Class AAAAAAA state playoffs at Walter Cantrell Stadium.
Mill Creek (11-1) advanced to play Milton in the quarterfinals, while McEachern (7-5) saw its season come to an end.
The Hawks scored 17 points off turnovers and added another 14 points after earning good field position off unsuccessful McEachern punt attempts.
A fumbled snap late in the third quarter led to an 8-yard touchdown reception for Brendan Jenkins from Hayden Clark and a 38-14 Mill Creek lead. Another punt, which deflected off an Indian lineman, resulted in Clark's 17-yard touchdown throw to Justin Content, which put the Hawks in front 45-14 midway through the fourth.
Leading 17-14 at halftime, Mill Creek took the second-half kickoff and drove 64 yards for a score. McEachern tried to respond, but Bryson Taylor's interception in the end zone led to an 11-play, 81-yard drive, capped by Clark's 11-yard touchdown pass to Makhail Wood and 31-14 Mill Creek advantage.
McEachern tried to rally late as Bryce Archie connected with Kaleb Webb for a 30-yard touchdown that trimmed the deficit to 45-22 following the 2-point conversion.
McEachern's Josiah Davie then recovered the onside kick, and Archie ran in from 9 yards out five plays later to make it 45-30 midway through the fourth. However, Donovan Journey's 25-yard rushing touchdown on the ensuing possession sealed the win for the Hawks.
"You have to play well all four quarters," McEachern coach Franklin Stephens said. "It doesn't matter what happens early. We made some mistakes that we thought we had improved on and moved past, but they reared their ugly head again. We didn't take advantage of our opportunities, and you can't do that against a good team like Mill Creek."
Clark finished 14-for-21 for 155 yards and three touchdowns for Mill Creek. Wood, who was one of four players with a receiving touchdown, added five receptions for 75 yards. Journey had 21 carries for 97 yards and a score.
Archie completed 19 of 41 passes for 296 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions. He also rushed 17 times for 126 yards and two scores.
Webb had eight catches for 146 yards and two touchdowns, while Devonte Morgan totaled six receptions for 91 yards.
"I couldn't be more proud of these kids," Stephens said. "We were 2-4 and nobody gave us a chance, but these guys put the work in and became difference-makers. These seniors helped change the direction of this program and have represented McEachern well."
Sparked by a halfback-option pass from Caleb Downs to Tye Green, Mill Creek rallied from a 14-0 first-quarter deficit to stake a 17-10 lead at halftime.
After failing to score on its first possession, McEachern found the end zone on back-to-back drives to move in front 14-0 late in the first period.
Archie ran in from 1 yard out with 3:10 on the clock, and a forced fumble for Antiwan Andrews recovered by Victor Okafor at the Hawks' 41 led to a 41-yard touchdown reception for Webb from Archie nearly 2 minutes later for the 14-0 lead.
Green's touchdown on the option pass put Mill Creek on the board, sparking the Hawks' run, and Downs' interception led to a 28-yard field goal for Trace Butcher that trimmed the Indians' lead to 14-10 just 2 minutes into the second quarter.
Mill Creek capitalized on another turnover on McEachern's ensuing possession as Brandon Akers returned an interception 19 yards to the Indians' 5, and Downs ran in from 1 yard out for the Hawks' three-point halftime lead.