The Archer defense had dominated No. 4 Mill Creek all night, but was on the verge of exhaustion in the fourth quarter. Needing one last stop, the Tigers came up big when Colin Stein came up with the game-clinching touchdown to give No. 8 Archer a 16-13 win.
“The defensive line put pressure on the quarterback, all the defensive backs had everybody covered up and he just threw the ball to the wrong person at the time,” Stein said.
Archer (3-0) limited Mill Creek to 79 yards passing and 68 yards rushing and came away with their first victory over the Hawks. Colby Wooden spent all night in the Mill Creek backfield and Will Choloh was an impediment at the line most of the game.
Mill Creek (3-1) trailed 10-0 at halftime, but temporarily changed the momentum with a pick-six from Shaka Heyward, who intercepted a pass and returned it 18 yards to cut the lead to 10-6 with 7:28 left in the third quarter.
But Archer answered by driving 89 yards to match the score. Keegan Strickland, who had a cast removed from his hand earlier in the week, scored on an 18-yard run with 3:54 left to help the Tigers regain their lead at 16-6.
“That was huge and we talk about those things,” Archer coach Andy Dyer said. “You’ve got to be able to put the fire out and they did a great job doing that.”
Mill Creek tightened it back up with a touchdown with 6:37 left. Uriah Leverette scored on a 3-yard run to trim the lead to 16-13.
Mill Creek had two more possessions. One ended in a punt, the other in the game-clinching interception.
“That game could have come down to any play and we just happened to be on the right end of it,” Dyer said.
Archer quarterback Carter Peevy completed 6 of 11 passes for 119 yards, with one interception. Strickland rushed 14 times for 131 yards.
Mill Creek quarterback Brady Longenecker completed 13 of 21 passes for 79 yards and one interception. Leverette ran 10 times for 45 yards.
“Our defensive staff did a great job and the kids played their hearts out,” Dyer said. “I’m proud of them.”
The Archer defense kept Mill Creek on its heels throughout the first half. The Hawks were limited to minus-16 yards on offense and one first down in the first two quarters.
Archer was able to control the ball for big hunks of time, although the Tigers were only able to put 10 points on the board.
Archer scored with 9:15 left in the first quarter on Michael Johnson’s 33-yard field goal, which completed a 10-play drive.
Mill Creek had a chance to change the momentum late in the first quarter when Daniel Tamburo stripped Archer quarterback Carter Peevy and Austin Ruiz-Velasco recovered. But three plays later the Tigers took it away when Garland Curry intercepted a low Brady Longenecker pass just before it hit the turf.
Archer converted the turnover into a touchdown. Will Choloh, a standout defensive lineman, took the ball at fullback on third-and-1 and went for 15 yards to the 1. Choloh scored on the next play, giving the Tigers a 10-0 lead with 1:48 left in the first quarter.