MT. AIRY -- Meadowcreek battled all night, trying to pick up that elusive first win of the season and snap that dreaded 43-game losing streak. But in the end, the Mustangs had no answer for Habersham Central's Sydnee Mulligan and Brandt Rineheart.
Mulligan rushed for 197 yards on 25 carries and one touchdown, while Rineheart added 125 yards on nine carries and two TDs as the Raiders pulled away for a 31-12 win over the Mustangs in Region 7-AAAAAA action at John Larry Black Field at Raider Stadium.
Habersham Central (1-6, 1-4) picks up its first win of the season and in the region, while reaching a high-water mark with 31 points. Meadowcreek, which falls to 0-6 overall and 0-4 in the region, scored its second-most points of the season, but simply couldn't stop the Habersham Central running game. Habersham Central produced 389 yards on 49 carries and attempted only two passes for the game.
"We just have to work and prepare our kids during the week for what is in front of us every game," said Meadowcreek head coach Deario Grimmage, "But our kids fought hard tonight and we really had some young kids playing inside, which is where (Habersham Central) was successful. We're young and it comes down to experience and also strength."
Habersham Central wasted no time in getting on the scoreboard to take a 7-0 lead. The Raiders received the opening kickoff and marched 61 yards in just four plays with quarterback Jake Tench scoring from six yards with 9:40 left in the first quarter. It also marked the first time that Habersham Central had led in a game this season.
Meadowcreek answered right back with an impressive 10-play, 80-yard drive that finished when quarterback Patrick Mills hit wide receiver Kortez Towels with a 23-yard scoring pass with 3:19 left. But a bad snap on the point-after try resulted in an incomplete pass and Habersham Central maintained the lead at 7-6.
Meadowcreek put together another good drive in the first half as the Mustangs reached the Habersham Central 15. But a fourth-down pass into the end zone fell incomplete.
Habersham Central took over and went 85 yards in 13 plays as Rineheart plowed in from seven yards to give the Raiders a 14-6 advantage with just 2:45 left in the first half. The Raiders then added a field goal as time expired in the first half as Juan Domingo drilled a 37-yarder for the 10-point margin.
Habersham Central extended its lead to 24-6 with 5:39 to go in the third quarter as the Raiders went 67 yards in eight plays, capped off by Rineheart's second TD of the night on a 48-yard run.
Meadowcreek climbed back to within two scores as Towels went high for a Mills pass down near the goal line and hauled it in for a 40-yard TD. But the two-point run failed and Habersham Central led 24-12 with 11:49 remaining.
Habersham Central put the game away midway through the fourth quarter as Mulligan was rewarded with a 4-yard run to complete a quick six-play, 26-yard drive set up by Cole Ivester's interception of Mills.
Ryan Moore led Meadowcreek with 91 yards on 14 carries, but only three yards on three carries in the second half. Mills was 9 of 16 for 129 yards with one interception and two TD passes, while Towels had five catches for 97 yards and both TDs for the Mustangs.
"I can't complain about the way our kids played tonight," Grimmage said. "They gave 150 percent, but we have to go back to the drawing board and make sure we prepare our kids better. We have some kids who can make plays, but we have to have an overall game to win. We are growing and I feel like we've made progress since last year."