In just four varsity seasons, Archer has already knocked off several of the state’s football giants, including Gwinnett County rivals Brookwood, Grayson and Parkview – all former state champions.
Early on it appeared as if the Tigers, ranked No. 3 in the Class AAAAAA preseason poll, would add Sandy Creek’s pelt to their wall. But the Patriots, ranked No. 2 in Class AAAA, would have none of it, as they scored 21 unanswered points in the third quarter to turn a 13-0 halftime deficit into a 21-13 win in the second Friday night game of the Corky Kell Classic at McEachern.
Archer scored on its first play from scrimmage courtesy of an 80-yard flee-flicker pass from quarterback Gabe Tiller to Kyle Davis to take a 7-0 lead. In the second quarter the Tigers upped the lead to 13-0 after a 1-yard touchdown run by Dylan Singleton on fourth-and-goal. The point after attempt was blocked by Sandy Creek’s Brian Miller.
But Sandy Creek turned the tide at halftime, largely behind the efforts of its offensive line and standout running back Eric Swinney. The Patriots run game began to wear down and gash the Archer defense, setting up play-action passes for quarterback Trey Walker, who hooked up with Tarik Muhammad on a 19-yard scoring strike midway through the third quarter to pull Sandy Creek to within a touchdown at 13-7.
The Patriots took the lead on their next possession when Swinney capped a 55-yard drive with a 9-yard scoring run to make the score 14-13. Then, after an interception by Sammy Brown gave the ball back to Sandy Creek at its 20-yard line, the Patriots drove 80 yards for the final score of the night as Walker hit fullback Austin Vazquez with an 8-yard touchdown pass in the front of the end zone, after a play fake to Swinney, who finished the night with 220 yards on 34 carries.
Archer tried to rally late, driving the ball inside the Sandy Creek 20-yard line with less then a minute remaining in regulation. But a short touchdown pass from Tiller to Davis was called back for holding, and Patriot safety Antonio Trapp picked off Tiller’s final pass of the night in the back of the end zone as time expired.