SUWANEE — Mistakes in football are measured by more than just turnovers, a lesson Collins Hill learned the hard way in their game against McEachern on Friday night.
The Eagles didn’t turn the ball over at all, but penalties and other miscues were far too plentiful for coach Lenny Gregory’s taste, and the No. 2 state-ranked Indians cashed in almost all of them in rolling to a big lead and coming away with a 30-14 win at Fahring Field.
The visiting Indians (4-0) only came away with a 31-yard advantage in total offense on the evening, but 84 of those yards came on three touchdown passes — two by Carlos Delrio-Wilson and another by Johmanuel Arnold — while, Jordan Simmons ran for 73 yards and a TD on 12 carries.
Meanwhile, the Eagles (2-2) were held to just 11 first downs, four of which came in the final 4:23 after the issue had been mostly decided.
“We showed our youth,” Gregory said. “We’ve got a young football team. We’re playing a lot of sophomores, and we made some young mistakes. We’re trying to … eliminate those things. You hope that when you play a team like McEachern that you don’t show up and make those mistakes. Against a team like that, they end up as points.”
To look only at the number of offensive plays run by each team, one might have thought Collins Hill dominated the first half, with the Eagles taking 36 official snaps to just 21 for McEachern, and holding the ball for all but 6:56 of the first and second quarters.
But the Indians were far more efficient with their offensive plays, even factoring in Travis Hunter’s interception of Delrio-Wilson early in the first quarter.
Before that turnover, McEachern got on the board with a little trickery with its first snap of the game, with Delrio-Wilson tossing a lateral into the right flat to Arnold, who found Gary Simpson wide open down the right sideline for a 39-yard touchdown that gave the Indians a 7-0 lead just 3:05 after the opening kickoff.
McEachern’s longest first half drive came late in the opening frame, when the Indians marched 64 yards in just six plays, with a 15-yard facemask penalty and an 18-yard run by Simmons eating up a chunk of yardage.
Simmons then ran in from 5 yards out, and followed with a two-point conversion run to extend the McEachern lead to 15-0 with 1:45 left in the quarter.
After taking possession in Collins Hill territory on a short punt on the first play of the second quarter, it took the Indians just one more snap to find the end zone again.
This time, Delrio-Wilson caught Decari Collins in stride for a 40-yard scoring strike, and Bryce Archie hit Javon Baker with a two-point pass to give McEachern a commanding 23-0 lead with 11:49 left in the first half.
Collins Hill tried to answer in the final 4:07 of the half with its best drive, as the Eagles went 76 yards in 15 plays to get into the red zone, most of which came on six completions for 65 yards by Sam Horn.
But on fourth and goal from the 1, Horn’s third attempt at a TD pass was batted at the line, and McEachern took over and was able to fall forward to run out the clock, and take the 23-0 lead into intermission.
McEachern took advantage another short field on a punt to go 44 yards in nine plays, capped by Delrio-Wilson’s 5-yard toss to Collins that made the lead 30-0 with 4:44 and mandated a running clock in the fourth quarter before Horn and the Collins Hill offense finally started clicking late.
The 6-foot-3, 160-pound signal caller hit fellow sophomore Hunter in the right flat, and the 6-1, 160-pounder receiver broke into the clear for an 80-yard touchdown that got the Eagles on the board at 30-8 after Horn followed two consecutive pass interference calls to dive in for the two-point conversion with 3:25 remaining.
Collins Hill recovered the ensuing onside kick and got 15 yards tacked on for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on McEachern to take over at the Indians’ 37.
Four plays later, Horn fired a bullet of a pass towards the middle of the field, and Jalen Johnson absorbed the punishment and held on to snag a 20-yard scoring strike and bring the Eagles to within 30-14 with 1:25 left after the incomplete two-point pass attempt.
But McEachern any thoughts of a Collins Hill comeback after recovering the second onside kick, and ended the Eagles’ game effort, led by 211 yards on 18-of-28 passing from Horn, including 11 completions to Johnson for 58 yards and five more hookups with Hunter for 115 yards, plus a defensive effort that held McEachern to just 49 total yards in the second half.
“That’s what I expect of our kids,” Gregory said of his team’s continuing to fight despite the big fourth-quarter deficit. “We’re built to compete. (In) every one of these first four games, we’ve played hard. We played hard (Friday) night. We’re out there battling.
“So I’m proud of the kids for their resolve. I’m disappointed, not just in the kids, but us as coaches, for the mistakes that we made. There were too many.”
McEACHERN 30, COLLINS HILL 14
McEachern 15 8 7 0 ― 30
Collins Hill 0 0 0 14 ― 14
McEachern: Gary Simpson 39 pass from Johmanuel Arnold (Denzell Moore kick), 8:46
McEachern: Jordan Simmons 5 run (Simmons run), 1:45
McEachern: Decari Collins 40 pass from Carlos Delrio-Wilson (Javon Baker pass from Bryce Archie), 11:39
McEachern: Collins 5 pass from Delrio-Wilson (Moore kick), 4:44
Collins Hill: Travis Hunter 80 pass from Sam Horn (Horn run), 3:25
Collins Hill: Jalen Johnson 20 pass from Horn (pass failed), 1:25
First downs 15 11
Rushes-yards 31-146 20-9
Passing yards 105 211
Att.-Comp.-INT 7-12-1 18-29-0
Fumbles-lost 1-0 1-0
Penalties-yards 6-26 12-81
Rushing — McEachern: Simmons 12-73, Christian Mason 10-59, Jaedon Copeland 3-10, unidentified 1-2, Delrio-Wilson 4-1, TEAM 1-(-1). Collins Hill: Isaiah Love 8-24, Johnson 4-14, James Smith 1-3, Horn 7-(-32).
Passing — McEachern: Delrio-Wilson 5-10-1, 60; Arnold 1-1-0, 39; Archie 1-5-0, 6. Collins Hill: Horn 18-28-0, 211; Clint Gilbert 0-1-0, 0.
Receiving — McEachern: Collins 3-52, Simpson 2-43, Caleb Brown 1-5, Simmons 1-4. Collins Hill: Johnson 11-58, Hunter 5-115, Logan Brown 2-39.