McEachern 35, Collins Hill 32

The McEachern Indians took control early over the Collins Hill Eagles to go up big. They relinquished their momentum – and the lead – thanks to penalties and were on the cusp of seeing their season end. Then Taj Griffin happened.

Griffin scored on a long punt return that proved to be the difference, as the Indians held on to beat the Eagles 35-32 in the Class AAAAAA state quarterfinals.

The Indians (11-2), a No. 3 seed out of Region 4, are in the semifinals for the first time since 1998. They move on to play North Gwinnett.

Griffin – a four-star recruit and one of the state’s top juniors – returned a punt 85 yards with a minute remaining to put the Indians ahead. He had to run backward to field the punt, rounded to the middle then cut to the sideline, using his blockers to go untouched to the end zone.

The Eagles (11-2) took over on their own 42 with 42 seconds left and three timeouts. They marched all the way to the 20 with 10 seconds left. But they never got the chance for a game-tying field goal because Glenn Frazier’s second interception of the night ended the game at the 1-yard line.

Griffin was also a force in the run game with 158 yards and a score on 20 carries. He got help in the passing game from freshman Bailey Hockman, who was 13 of 20 for 183 yards and a touchdown to T.J. Rahming, who led the Indians with 80 receiving yards.

McEachern built a 28-10 lead with 9:17 left in the third quarter, but then penalties sank in. Forty-five yards worth of personal foul penalties killed the Indians’ next possession and after they punted, they committed two facemask penalties that led to Tyler Henderson’s 1-yard touchdown. The two-point conversion pulled the Eagles to within 28-18 after three quarters.

On the Indians’ next possession, two more 15-yard penalties on third down led to a punt that was returned 41 yards by Ari Benoit for another touchdown, pulling the Eagles to within 28-25.

With 6:28 left, the Eagles took the lead with Tyler Herman’s 36-yard touchdown pass to Henderson. They would hold that lead until Griffin’s big run.

Henderson finished with 79 rushing yards and 59 receiving yards, with a rushing and receiving touchdown. Herman was 22 of 40 passing for 123 yards and two scores.

McEachern 7 14 7 7 – 35

Collins Hill 3 7 8 14 – 32

C – Paul Ille 22 FG

M – Alizee Chubbs 1 run (Dennis Dominguez kick)

M – Taj Griffin 11 run (Dominguez kick)

M – T.J. Rahming 45 pass from Bailey Hockman (Dominguez kick)

C – Ari Benoit 6 pass from Tyler Herman (Ian Morrison kick)

M – Chubbs 1 run (Dominguez kick)

C – Tyler Henderson 1 run (Quentin Jones pass from Herman)

C – Dwayne Smith 41 punt return (Morrison kick)

C – Henderson 36 pass from Herman (Morrison kick)

M – Griffin 85 punt return (Dominguez kick)

Follow Adam Krohn on Twitter.

30 comments Add your comment

HSFootballFan

November 29th, 2013
11:28 pm

Congrats McEachern! That’s the way to bring some respect to West Cobb!

UncleIndian

November 30th, 2013
12:12 am

HOW BOUT THEM MCEACHERN INDIANS BABY!!!!! WAY TO NEVER GIVE UP!!!!

GA Fan

November 30th, 2013
12:35 am

Great Job Indians!!!!! Hats off to a good Collins Hill team. That was a great game to watch. Taj Griffin…….is one special athlete!!!! GOOOO Indians!!!

westcobb5

November 30th, 2013
12:36 am

David 2. Golliath 0. You can read about the first match in 1Samuel. Version 2 went down in Gwinnett tonight. POWDER SPRINGS PROUD!

indianrevrev

November 30th, 2013
12:39 am

MCEARCHERN…. y’all gone learn

Marietta fan

November 30th, 2013
12:52 am

I can’t believe I’m saying this, but Go Mceachern! Even though we’re rivals and I’ve never really liked y’all, it’s time for Cobb to win a championship and region 4 to get some respect!

IndianPride

November 30th, 2013
1:02 am

@collins hill coaches, players, parents, hold your heads as high as the eagles fly. Your boys are a class act and I know that the coaches and parents are the reason these young men play with honor. When I saw your captains not only shake hands with our Captains but to hug them as well was awesome to witness. When number 5 was tackled for a loss by one of our defenders he helped our player up and told him good job! What an amazing young man! Thank you for the hospitality and may our paths cross again so we can return the hospitality.

IndianPride

November 30th, 2013
1:07 am

@The Mighty McEachern Indians, 6 words! Just can’t hide that Indian Pride

OMacG

November 30th, 2013
1:12 am

Very class bunch across the field from us tonight…and HANDS DOWN the best PA announcer I’ve heard this season. Just the right touch of homerism and excitement…and we were pleasantly surprised and pleased to hear that Southern accent.

East Cobb Dad

November 30th, 2013
1:16 am

Congratulations and good luck next week!

UncleIndian

November 30th, 2013
1:17 am

@OMacG and IndianPride ditto!!!

westcobb5

November 30th, 2013
1:41 am

“Then Taj Griffin happened.” Kudos to the training staff. Whoever wrapped that ankle minutes before “Taj happened” should get a medal. Coming off the field in the prior series, I didn’t think he’d make it to the bus, much less go back in the game.

cr0n

November 30th, 2013
1:52 am

The Indians will now face the best team from Suwanee, having avoided certain defeat at the hands of the #2 team in Suwanee. 2 of 4 of the final four from Gwinnett…..shocker. Norcross vs NG for all the marbles.

OMacG

November 30th, 2013
2:01 am

@cr0n- when you get a little more grown, you’ll appreciate some good, civil conversation without having to jump in with the smack talk when not a soul said a thing to provoke it.

cr0n

November 30th, 2013
2:22 am

@OMacG Well, consider yourself all grown up and properly provoked. Let the fun begin….Go Dawgs!!

BIG CHIEF WHOOPUM

November 30th, 2013
2:34 am

YEAHHHH BABY!!!! Like I’ve said before this is one SCRAPPY group of INJUNS!!! Again to quote Jimmy V “DON’T GIVE UP, DON’T EVER GIVE UP”. Maybe we should nickname them “Cardiac Kids” cause their gonna give me a heart attack.

Collins Hill: Congrats on a Great season and a hard fought game tonight.

Hillgrove: Also Congrats on a Great season and I was looking forward to a rematch.

GO INDIANS!!! GO BIG BLUE!!!

westcobb5

November 30th, 2013
8:47 am

Lost in the excitement . . . Facing 4th and long with 3 TOs and only 2 min on the clock, Kyle Hockman, to the chagrin of a few ‘grandstand coaches’, chose to punt and rely on his D to get the ball back. The D delivered. Taj happened. Frazier picked. And now it’s history. Good call Coach!

True Native

November 30th, 2013
9:16 am

Congrats to Mceachern, it seems like everyone wrote you off. We all knew it would be a tough game, but you’ll pulled it off. Hats off to both mceachern and CH! @ Big chief woopum, I am a full blooded Native American, and I really take offense to Injun. That is such a derogatory and offensive name, please do not ever use that name in your future post. We true Natives would appreciate that. Good Luck next week Mceachern!

packerchick

November 30th, 2013
10:29 am

Congratulations McEachern!

OMacG…I know you are proud and excited! Would be nice if both of our teams could make it to the Dome!

Grayram

November 30th, 2013
11:03 am

Congratulations Mceachern Indians, they was very exciting to watch.

Grayram

November 30th, 2013
11:07 am

*that was exciting

Orange and White

November 30th, 2013
12:13 pm

Where is the game next Friday?

UncleIndian

November 30th, 2013
1:12 pm

@Orange and White coin flip tomorrow to determine home team

RobFromNorcross

December 1st, 2013
12:33 pm

game is at McEachern

Gwinnett_Fan_66

December 1st, 2013
3:17 pm

Curious when the last team to win it all had all games on the road. Anyone?

Sportsnut

December 1st, 2013
3:31 pm

Mceachern vs Colquitt for the crown.

Flyer

December 1st, 2013
3:37 pm

@Gwinnett_Fan_66– Peachtree Ridge was a 4th seed in 2006 and played all the playoff games on the road. The Semis were in the Dome and the Finals were held at Mceachern because of the stadium size at Roswell. In 2010 Colquitt was also a 4th seed and was on the road the whole before losing to Brookwood in the Championship.

region4fan

December 1st, 2013
7:59 pm

Great games from Mceachern and Hillgrove. Region 4 in the last two years has proven it is a football force to be reckoned with by all other regions.

Gwinnett_Fan_66

December 1st, 2013
10:15 pm

@Flyer Thanks, that was the one I was remembering. That was the sister kisser with Roswell if I recall.

Fred

December 3rd, 2013
10:00 am

@Flyer – Not to take away from Colquitt but in 2010 they were the third seed. I know because we were as well and they lost the coin toss and came to us.
http://ghsa.net/2010-2011-ghsa-class-aaaaa-state-football-championship-bracket