Photo courtesy of Dale Zanine/Gwinnett Daily Post
Story By Seth Ellerbee
Walton 48, Mill Creek 27
Walton quarterback Austin Kirksey had a hand in five touchdowns – three passing and two rushing — as the Raiders overpowered Mill Creek 48-27 in the second game of the MetroPCS Corky Kell Classic at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Saturday.
All of Kirksey’s touchdown passes were to four-star recruit and Georgia commitment Dominick Blaylock.
“I’m just very happy about their effort tonight,” said Walton coach Daniel Brunner. “They played a great ballgame tonight. I really didn’t know who we were going to be this year. But you never really know until you play that first game.”
The Walton defense forced two turnovers to aid the offensive efforts, one of which was a tip-and-catch by Trey Middleton, a senior linebacker, with 11:49 left in the game. If Mill Creek had any momentum at that point, it all but evaporated. The Hawks trailed 45-27 at the time.
“It was very impressive,” Brunner said of the athletic interception. “I think he’s going to do a lot of big things for us this year, and that was one of them. I am just fired up for all of our guys. Such a good team effort to force two turnovers on defense, and I felt like we had a chance to force a few more.”
As Mill Creek sent a receiver to the left on a slant, Middleton read the play perfectly and got to the ball before anyone. He tipped it up and had time to find his bearings at full speed and grab the ball to make the catch.
“I knew it was third down, and that’s my money play,” Middleton said. “Coach said we needed a big play, so I told myself that I am going to be that guy and I’m going to put my head down and go after the ball to see what I could do.”
Following the interception, Walton only added a field goal, but the boost the defensive play gave the offense was crucial late in the game.
“It just gave us a lot of momentum,” said quarterback Austin Kirksey of Middleton’s interception. “We just kept rolling on offense, and once we had it going we just kept executing and focusing on us and making plays.”
Kirskey, a Nevada commitment, finished the game 18-of-25 passing for 344 yards and three touchdowns. He rushed for 57 yards and two touchdowns.
“It feels amazing,” Kirksey said of playing in the Corky Kell. “The stadium is awesome, and we couldn’t have asked for a better place to play.”
Blaylock finished the game with 132 receiving yards and three touchdowns. D.J. Soyoye had one rushing touchdown. Brandon Spencer led Walton with 11.5 tackles. Drew Michalek had seven.
Mill Creek’s Baxley Harris was 11-of-24 passing for 105 yards and two interceptions. Chancellor Lee-Parker rushed for 128 yards and three touchdowns. Parker Wroble added one rushing touchdown.
Leaving the field, Brunner commented on the experience for his team playing on such a stage and coming out with a victory.
“I just told my kids that they just won a game where they are playing the Super Bowl this year,” said Brunner. “That’s a phenomenal feeling.”