Mill Creek defensive coordinator Tommy Scott leaps in celebration as his defense stops Dacula on fourth down during high school football action in Hoschton on Friday.
HOSCHTON -- As it did a year ago, Mill Creek jumped out early on neighborhood rival Dacula in northwest Gwinnett's annual bird battle.
Unlike last year, the Hawks didn't allow the Falcons back in.
This time instead of hanging on by their Talons, the Hawks cruised, paced by a ground game that chewed up 358 yards, led by Jacorey Lewis' 209 yards and three touchdowns on 24 carries, in a 35-0 win Friday night at Mill Creek Community Stadium.
"That's what we had to do," said Lewis, who posted scoring runs of 10, 69 and 5 yards on the evening. "We had to keep our potential up, keep (playing) physical (with) hard work, and make sure we played every play."
Lewis' big night was the second 200-plus-yard game of his career after a 264-yard night against Dacula last season, and he had plenty of help.
Stepping in for an injured Carter Governale, junior DeVozea Felton gave a huge contribution with 71 yards on 11 carries, while sophomore Daniel David completed 5 of 9 passes for 84 yards and two scores in his debut as the Hawks (1-0) starting quarterback.
Meanwhile the Mill Creek defense held Dacula (0-1) in check for just 131 total yards and seven first downs.
As was the case in last year's contest, the Hawks dominated most of the first half, rolling up 239 total yards, 207 of them on the ground.
And they gained those yards in a variety of ways.
They dissected the Falcons' defense in large chunks in an eight-play, 66-yard march with the game's first possession that ended with David's 23-yard touchdown pass to Matt Pursell, which put Mill Creek up 7-0 just 2:21 after the opening kickoff.
A similar drive to open the second quarter -- this one nine plays and 60 yards -- pushed the lead to 14-0 when Lewis bolted in from 10 yards out with 8:49 left in the first half.
The Hawks also got the big play, with Lewis breaking a couple of tackles and weaving his way through the Dacula secondary for a 69-yard TD run, extending the Mill Creek lead to 21-0 lead with 3:27 left in the half.
Meanwhile, it took Dacula a long time to get started, with the Falcons not picking up the initial first down of the half until well into the second quarter.
They eventually managed two drives deep into Mill Creek territory, but the first one, which penetrated as deep sat the Hawks' 14, ended on downs after a couple of ill-timed penalties and an incomplete pass on fourth and 10 at the 23.
Dacula had another chance to gain some momentum heading into halftime, driving 54 yards in nine plays, with Marcus Cox carrying four times for 34 yards.
But after Cox was held inbounds after a 1-yard swing pass from Brandon Goodson at the Mill Creek 9 with Dacula having exhausted all its timeouts, the Falcons could not get another play off before the half ended with the Hawks still three scores up.
"I'll take the blame (for) running out of time," Dacula coach Jared Zito said. "I thought we had one more timeout. We didn't, and it really caught us in a bind trying to get a play off on fourth down. So, that one's on me.
"If we'd gotten (a score) on the board with us getting the ball (first) in the second half, it would've given our kids more of a chance coming out of halftime. The bottom line is, (Mill Creek) did a good job of preparing. They're a good football team. Their kids played hard. They executed."
And with Mill Creek leading 28-0 early in the third quarter, the Hawks' defense executed again to blunt one more attempt for the Falcons to get back in the game.
After a 25-yard run by Cox set Dacula up at the Mill Creek 44, Michael Stampfer broke free and got a step on his defender down the middle of the field.
But under a big rush, Goodson lofted the ball a bit, allowing Keanu James, who had just moved from safety to cornerback, to recover and make a diving interception to give the Hawks possession at their own 1-yard line.
James' play was big, and teammate B.J. Harmon made an equally important play to break up a long pass in the third quarter.
"There are two things that happened," Hawks coach Shannon Jarvis said. "One, we kept them from scoring right before the half. ... But I'll tell you, when B.J. Harmon broke up that pass, ... that was the biggest play of the ball game. They score there, it's on. You've seen this game so many times how it shifts momentum. So, when B.J. Harmon made that play, that was probably one of the best defensive plays I've seen on this field, just because of the magnitude."
Lewis then delivered the final blow with a 35-yard run to the Dacula 5 on the first play of the fourth quarter, and then taking it into the end zone himself on the next play for a score that made the score 35-0 with 9:34 to play.