McEachern’s Paris Brown and Jalen Thornton turned the tables in the second half on a Parkview running game that had controlled much of the first two quarters and helped the Indians pull away for a 43-28 victory at home Friday in the Class AAAAAAA quarterfinals.
Brown and Thornton combined for 238 yards rushing (167 in the second half) and scored three of their four touchdowns in the final two quarters to put the Indians in the semifinals for the first time since 2014.
McEachern (10-3), the No. 2 seed from Region 3, will travel next week to Region 6 champion North Gwinnett, which advanced with a 51-41 victory over Marietta. Parkview, the runner-up in Region 7, finished 9-4. The Panthers were eliminated by McEachern in the second round last season.
The Indians led 19-14 at halftime despite giving up 222 first-half rushing yards and being outgained 266-171. But McEachern had 168 yards rushing in the second half while holding Parkview to 56 yards on the ground and finished with a 392-391 advantage in total offense. Parkview came into the game averaging 327.9 yards rushing.
“Paris was throwing up and other stuff too all day, and he did not warm up,” McEachern coach Kyle Hockman said. “I said, ‘Hey, I think I remember in eighth grade when you were sick and you did pretty good.’ And he said, ‘Yea, I had five touchdowns.’ I said, ‘Let’s do it again.’
“He stepped up, and the other running backs did well too. We knew they played the pass really well, and they made things tough on Carlos [Delrio-Wilson] and Malik [Evans]. They hit a couple and did some good things, but the offensive line and the running backs did a good job.”
Brown led the way with 150 yards and two second-half touchdowns on 21 carries. Thornton ran for 88 yards on 12 carries and scored on runs of 7 and 35 yards. Quarterbacks Delrio-Wilson and Evans combined to complete just six of 21 passes but had 118 yards passing with one touchdown.
Brown scored on a 24-yard run on the third play of the third quarter to give the Indians a 26-14 lead, but Parkview answered four plays later on a 33-yard touchdown pass from Fred Peyton to Miles Marshall to make it 26-21 with 9:26 to play in the quarter.
The Indians still led by five points when they began to pull away early in the fourth. Roben Rodriquez kicked a 32-yard field goal and Brown scored on a 1-yard run on the Indians’ first two possessions of the quarter for a 36-21 lead. Parkview got a 4-yard touchdown run by Christian Malloy, his third of the night, with 3:27 remaining, but Thornton scored on a 35-yard run about a minute later to put the game away..
Parkview moved the ball well early but led just 7-6 at the end of the first quarter, in part because of a 90-yard fumble return for a touchdown by McEachern’s Tony Davis on the the Panthers’ second possession. Parkview answered with an eight-play, 70-yard drive and took the lead on a 1-yard run by Malloy with 1:55 to play in the first quarter. The Panthers had a 150-22 advantage in total offense at that point.
McEachern scored on its next two possessions – on a 23-yard pass from Delrio-Wilson to Javan Baker and a 7-yard run by Thornton – to lead 19-7 with 9:03 to play in the first half.
Malloy’s second touchdown run of the half, a 65-yarder on the first play of Parkview’s next possession, closed the gap to 19-14.
Malloy finished with 27 carries for 201 yards rushing, 153 of which came in the first half.
Parkview had other chances to score but could not overcome the combination of its own mistakes and a tough McEachern red-zone defense. Three times the Panthers got inside the McEachern 25-yard line but came away with no points. Those drives ended with a fumble, a missed field goal and a failed fourth-down conversion attempt.
“We knew they could run the ball well,” Hockman said. “They’ve got good a good offensive line and good running backs. They got down in there, but the defense stood up with a couple of turnovers and we put pressure on them to miss a field goal. I’m really proud of them. When you’re in the 7A playoffs, it’s tough sledding.”
Parkview – 7-7-7-7 – 28
McEachern – 6-13-7-17 – 43
M – Tony Davis 90 fumble return (kick failed)
P – Christian Malloy 1 run (Nolan McCord kick)
M – Javan Baker 23 pass from Carlos Delrio-Wilson (kick failed)
M – Jalen Thornton 7 run (Roben Rodriquez kick)
P – Malloy 65 run (McCord kick)
M – Paris Brown 24 run (Rodriquez kick)
P – Miles Marshall 33 pass from Fred Payton (McCord kick)
M – Rodriquez 32 field goal
M – Brown 1 run (Rodriquez kick)
P – Malloy 4 run (McCord kick)
M – Thornton 35 run (Rodriquez kick)