LILBURN -- In what was one of the top match-ups in the state of Georgia Friday night, nationally-ranked Mill Creek (No. 14 in SB Live/Sports Illustrated Power 25), surged past Parkview in the second half to secure a 30-20 win.
The Hawks were on upset watch early on with the game deadlocked at 13-13 heading into halftime.
Georgia Tech running back commit Trelain Maddox found the end zone for Parkview on their first drive of the night, an 18-yard scamper that gave the hosts an early 6-0 lead.
The Panthers later regained the lead, 13-10 after five-star Tennessee commit Mike Matthews hauled in a 9-yard touchdown reception late in the second quarter before the Hawks were able to tie things up at 13-13 with Brady Lane’s second field goal of the half.
Parkview held tough through the third quarter as well with four-star Auburn commit Jalyn Crawford intercepting his second pass of the night. It came one play after the Hawks had a 25-yard touchdown run wiped off the board thanks to a holding penalty that would have given them a 20-13 lead.
But after two nice scoring drives in the first half, the Parkview offense went cold and the Hawks capitalized.
The Hawks regained the lead, 16-13 on Lane’s third field goal of the night late in the third quarter, and went on to take a 10-point lead, 23-13 after a huge muffed punt by Parkview’s Carson Wilson led to a three-yard touchdown run by Mill Creek running back Cam Robinson.
Up until that point, the Hawks defense managed to hold the Panthers’ high-powered offense to just 53 yards through the first 18 minutes of the second half.
In desperate need of a touchdown, the Panthers got themselves back into the game and did so in a hurry, scoring in just 57 seconds to trim the Hawks’ lead back down to three points, 23-20 with just over five minutes remaining.
Wilson, who muffed the punt earlier in the quarter, redeemed himself with a 29-yard touchdown reception from quarterback Jaiden Jenkins.
Needing a stop on defense to have a chance, the Panthers’ defense came up empty.
The Hawks converted a third-and-3 near midfield, and it turned into a 47-yard catch-and-run touchdown from quarterback Shane Throgmartin to Georgia Tech commit Trejen Greco.
Greco’s score put the Hawks back up 10 points, 30-20, with 2:31 remaining, and they were able to hold on and win by that score.
With the game tied 13-13 at halftime, the Hawks went on to out-score the Panthers 17-7 in the second half and out-gained them in yards 226-157.
“I told them during pregame that this is a defining game right here of where we’re at in this 2023 season,” Lovelady said. “I’m excited because we had to figure out the carryover from the 2022 state championship team. Who was going to step up and play big-boy football? They answered the call.”
Three takeaways from Mill Creek-Parkview
Mill Creek running back Cam Robinson is a problem for opposing defenses
There is a lot to like about Mill Creek running back Cam Robinson, who entered Friday night’s match-up with Parkview fresh off a monster performance against Cedar Grove last week.
After rushing for 219 yards and three touchdowns in last week’s 56-35 win over Cedar Grove, Robinson followed that up with 186 yards and two touchdowns against Parkview, who had no answer for the 5-foot-9 running back.
Robinson doesn’t have the offers like some of his teammates, such as Trajen Greco, who is committed to Georgia Tech. But the senior was an instrumental piece in their 2022 Class 7A state championship and is without a doubt the heart and soul of the Hawks offense in 2023.
The Mill Creek special teams units are top-tier
The Hawks have always prided themselves on having one of the best special teams units in the state of Georgia and 2023 is no different.
Junior placekicker Brady Lane was money Friday night against the Hawks, going a perfect 3-for-3 on field goals and a perfect 3-for-3 on extra points.
On the season, Lane is 5-for-5 on field goals and is a perfect 26-for-26 on extra points. With as important as kicking can be in Class 7A, the Hawks appear to be in great hands with Lane, who has yet to miss a kick this season.
In the return game, Jaiden Patterson was a weapon for the Hawks Friday night. The senior returned his first kickoff 61 yards which helped set up their first touchdown. He later broke off another long return late in the first half that set up their game-tying field goal.
And arguably the biggest play of the game came on special teams for the Hawks when gunner Demarko Lawler scooped up Parkview’s muffed punt deep inside Parkview territory.
Parkview is going to be just fine
The Panthers entered this matchup ranked No. 7 in the state of Georgia and No. 6 in Class 7A.
And while they weren’t able to pull off the upset of Mill Creek Friday night, they proved that they are able to hang with the best the state has to offer.
That’s due in large part to the star-studded roster the Panthers possess, starting with five-star athlete Mike Matthews, 4-star athlete Jayln Crawford, and 3-star running back Trelain Maddox, who all had great games Friday night.
Maddox rushed for 114 yards and scored a touchdown in the first half alone for the Panthers. He went on to finish the game with 122 yards rushing on 10 carries and also caught a pass for 28 yards.
Matthews got his money’s worth on the limited targets that he saw, catching a nine-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter and Crawford was one of the lone standouts on defense for the Panthers after intercepting two passes.
Maddox also made an impact on defense for the Panthers, recording two sacks in the loss.
This loss doesn’t change much about how good the Panthers are. But things won’t get much easier moving forward. The Panthers play in arguably the best region in the state top-to-bottom, Region 4-7A. The region consists of three ranked teams in No. 7 Parkview, No. 8 Grayson and No. 12 Newton.
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