CARROLLTON — After two quarters of play Saturday at Grisham Stadium, Creekview found itself in an unfamiliar position.
The Grizzlies had allowed just 20 total points in their previous three games to end the regular season, but they were down by as much against Carrollton entering the half.
Carrollton quarterback MJ Morris had two touchdowns with 157 rushing yards on just seven first-half carries, and it felt as though the attack would continue, but Creekview responded by allowing just 187 yards in the third and fourth quarters combined.
Ultimately, the adjustments came too late and the halftime deficit was too much to overcome, as a late interception and subsequent Carrollton touchdown sealed the Trojans’ 47-28 in the first round of the Class AAAAAA playoffs.
Morris, a North Carolina State commit, ran for 174 yards and was 9-of-17 passing for 98 yards.
Carrollton (10-1) moved on to a second-round game at Alcovy.
“(Carrollton) gave us different looks on offense that they hadn’t shown on film, and Morris ran it more than he has all season,” Creekview coach Trevor Williams said. “Credit to their guys. That’s a really good football team. (Morris) is obviously a really good player, and he showed that tonight.”
Creekview (8-3) needed just two plays to open the second half with a touchdown, thanks to junior running back Isaac Hubert, who scored on a 59-yard run to cut the deficit to 27-14.
Carrollton, however, followed with a two-play drive of its own, made easier with a solid starting field position after Creekview’s failed onside kick attempt. Trojans wide receiver Ace Williamson caught a 47-yard pass by Morris on first down to set up a 3-yard score by running back Kelvin Hill one play later.
On the next Carrollton possession, running back Jamun Evans took his first-down carry 67 yards for another score to give the Trojans a comfortable 40-14 lead midway through the third quarter.
Making the comeback more difficult was the fact that Creekview was without quarterback Mason Hicks, who suffered what Williams said was a hip pointer during a third-down scramble in the third quarter.
Backup Austin Guest — a freshman with just 25 pass attempts entering Saturday — led the Grizzlies on back-to-back touchdown drives to bring the deficit to 41-28 before later throwing an interception with 2:33 remaining to seal Carrollton’s victory.
“I’m proud of him,” Williams said. “Any time a freshman goes into a (Class) 6-A state playoff game, you never know what you’re going to get, but we got exactly what we thought we would. He was poised under pressure, made some big throws for us, extended some plays. I couldn’t be prouder of him tonight.”
Running back Tyler Stevens led Creekview in rushing with 165 yards on 17 carries and in receiving with 98 yards on eight receptions, along with two touchdowns. Despite an early exit, Hicks completed 12 of 18 pass attempts for 131 yards.
Williams said he could not be more proud of the seniors, who finished their careers as the winningest class in team history with a 34-11 record, and reached the state playoffs in three of four seasons.
“They left quite a legacy,” Williams said, completing his third season at the helm, “but more than that, their character and who they are and the young men they’re becoming will just make Creekview proud for years and years.”