JOHNS CREEK, Ga. — Crosstown rivals Chattahoochee and Johns Creek played the eighth installment of their rivalry Friday night with Hooch coming out on top, 38-31, in a game that went down to the wire.
“This was absolutely a big win,” Chattahoochee head coach Vince Strine said. “Hats off to Johns Creek, they were up for a fight. But our guys were, too.”
The shootout featured seven lead changes, a goal-line stand in the final minutes and a gutsy 4th-and-1 call from Chattahoochee to seal the win.
“It was definitely a see-saw game,” Strine said.
Chattahoochee built the largest lead of the game midway through the first quarter after making a field goal and a rushing touchdown from quarterback Jack Corrigan. Hooch’s touchdown was set up by a snap over the head of Johns Creek’s punter that was recovered by the Cougars inside the 5-yard line.
Johns Creek later tied the game at 10-10 with a Luke Venco field goal, the start of a flurry of scoring in the second quarter.
Hooch scored from four yards out with an Andrew Thomas rush but the PAT was missed. Johns Creek responded quickly with a 74-yard pass from Zach Gibson to Matt Casey to go up 17-16. With 44 seconds remaining in the half, Corrigan hit Thomas for a 30-yard touchdown as Hooch regained the lead.
Three more lead changes took place in the third quarter and Johns Creek led 31-30 entering the fourth.
Chattahoochee would regain the lead on a 7-yard pass from Corrigan to Marcus Stephen and a 2-point conversion with nine minutes remaining in the game.
Corrigan threw for 172 yards and rushed for 121 with four total touchdowns in the win.
In the final minutes, Johns Creek drove inside Hooch’s five-yard line and looked poised to tie the game once again. But Hooch’s defense would stand tall with their backs against the wall.
“We let them out of a fourth down conversion and a 3rd-and-39 earlier in the game,” Strine said. “But at the very end when we had to have it, we forced a turnover on downs.”
But the game still wasn’t sealed. Chattahoochee needed a first down to be able to run out the clock to secure the win.
After three plays, Johns Creek’s defense held the Cougars to a 4th-and-1 in their own territory.
But instead of punting the ball away, Strine and Chattahoochee decided to play for the win.
“To me, it was a no-brainer,” Strine said.
Hooch attempted to draw Johns Creek offsides. When that didn’t work, they let Corrigan run a QB sneak, which went past the line to gain and iced the win.
With the win, the Cougars improved to 4-1 in Region 7-AAAAAA and sit in third in the standings. It’s the first 4-1 start to region play for Chattahoochee since 2011.
“As the program is concerned, it’s another step taken to where we want to be,” Strine said.
Chattahoochee wants to be at the top after failing to make the playoffs the last four years, but Strine said the Cougars’ will not get ahead of themselves.
“Our next biggest game of the year is Pope,” he said.
The Cougars have a bye this week before hosting the Greyhounds Oct. 20.
Johns Creek fell to 2-3 in region play and face region leaders Alpharetta on the road next Friday.