HOSCHTON — Before Newton got settled on the soggy turf Friday night, Mill Creek’s football team landed a series of haymakers.
The Hawks scored on their first three possessions in the first quarter and never saw that lead threatened in a 45-14 victory over Newton in the first round of the Class AAAAAAA state playoffs. Mill Creek (9-2) now travels to Roswell next Friday for the second round, while Newton ends its season with a 7-4 mark.
Chancellor Lee-Parker rushed 14 times for 175 yards and three touchdowns, including scoring runs of 58 and 65 yards to lead the Hawks. Mill Creek was mostly opportunistic on short fields thanks to five Newton turnovers — three lost fumbles and two interceptions.
Mill Creek struck quickly after forcing a quick three-and-out to open the game, scoring on its fourth play, a 33-yard keeper from M.J. Patterson, who got the start at quarterback. Another quick stop led to a 58-yard touchdown run by Lee-Parker for a 14-0 lead with 2:53 left in the opening quarter.
On the next series, Brayden Dudley (who also had a sack) pounced on a mishandled low snap by Newton, and the recovery at the Rams’ 23-yard line put the Hawks in prime position. Mill Creek’s Parker Wroble took a handoff and threw a 20-yard TD pass to a wide open Tim Page for a 21-0 lead late in the first quarter.
Newton found its footing in the second quarter, trimming the deficit to 21-7 on a 64-yard TD pass from Neal Howard to Nyland Green. Green jumped over the top of a Hawks defender on a short pass, then raced the rest of the way.
Mill Creek extended its lead to 24-7 as time expired in the first half when Brock Pellegrino hit a 34-yard field goal, which was set up by Caleb Downs’ interception. Newton had three first-half turnovers — the other was a muffed punt recovered by Khamari Glover.
The Rams gained 64 yards on Green’s TD, but had only 59 yards on their other 27 offensive snaps of the first half.
Mill Creek opened the second half with a 47-yard kickoff return by Josh Battle to the Rams’ 25-yard line. Forced into a fourth-and-14, Patterson found Parker Wroble, whose leaping catch on the sideline kept the drive alive. Lee-Parker finished it off with a 3-yard TD run for a 31-7 lead.
A 30-yard TD pass from Howard to Diondre Glover gave Newton an answer back, but the momentum lasted only 11 seconds. Lee-Parker reeled off a 65-yard TD on Mill Creek’s next offensive snap for a 38-14 edge.
The teams then traded turnovers — a fumble recovery by Newton’s Darius Green and Downs’ second interception — before Mill Creek tacked on a TD via special teams. A bad punt snap got away from the punter and Romeo Pelham fell on it in the end zone for a 45-14 lead early in the fourth quarter.
Howard finished 10 of 27 passing for 204 yards, and Glover had three catches for 97 yards. Green had two catches for 74 yards. The Rams finished with 23 rushing yards.