JOHNS CREEK, Ga. — Northview High School and Johns Creek High School sit roughly 1.5 miles away from each other, and both schools’ football teams entered Friday night undefeated in region play and 3-1 overall. With the teams so close in distance and record, the week six matchup between the Titans and Gladiators built up a considerable amount of hype, and it didn’t disappoint.
In the “Battle of Medlock,” Johns Creek defeated Northview 42-28. The Gladiators (4-1, 3-0) scored 35 unanswered points in the first half behind an air-raid attack on offense and two interceptions on defense. All of Northview’s points came in the second half when it was too little too late.
“It’s starting to come together,” said Johns Creek head coach Matt Helmerich. “We have playmakers. We have kids on the offensive line that fight. And we’ve got a good quarterback back there directing traffic. They’re making plays and putting up points, so that’s all we can ask for.”
On the Gladiators’ first possession, quarterback Ben Whitlock connected with Nicolas Willis down the field for a 31-yard gain. After Dontrelle Robinson snagged a jump-ball from Whitlock near the goal line, Will Watson ran it in from 2 yards out to get the scoring started.
On the ensuing drive, the Northview offense methodically worked its way downfield. The Titans looked like they were about to tie it up, but a fumble at the 2-yard line gave the ball back to Johns Creek without any points for the home team.
The next drive for the Gladiators was all about Whitlock and senior receiver Garrett Gauthreaux. The two connected twice, first for a 42-yard gain and again for 20 yards a few plays later. The 98-yard drive was capped off with a 2-yard touchdown run by Tank Pritchett to put the Gladiators up 14-0.
The Johns Creek defense got involved in the scoring, too. The Gladiators forced two interceptions in the second quarter, including a pick-six by John Stegenga.
With time winding down in the first half, Johns Creek added a pair of touchdown passes from Whitlock to take a 35-0 lead over Northview at halftime.
“The first half was Johns Creek football,” Helmerich said. “We moved the ball and scored some touchdowns on offense, and we scored on defense and got a couple turnovers in the first half to build that lead.”
The Gladiators seemed to have the game locked up in one half, but the Titans weren’t ready to give up.
The Gladiators fumbled the kickoff to open the second half, and Northview capitalized. Marcus Godbey punched it in for a 1-yard touchdown run to give the Titans their first points of the night. On their next drive, the Titans drove 81 yards down the field, ending with quarterback Beau Lark throwing a 23-yard touchdown to Patrick Hester.
Northview trailed 35-14 with 2:35 left in the third quarter. Looking for a stop that would have given the ball back to their offense, the defense gave up a momentum-shifting touchdown that would go on to be the difference-maker in the game. On third-and-9, Whitlock heaved the ball downfield to Gauthreaux, who reeled it in for a 69-yard touchdown to put Johns Creek up 42-14.
Northview added two scores in the fourth quarter — an 8-yard touchdown pass from Lark to Hester and a 68-yard touchdown run down the sideline by Lark — but it wasn’t enough to change the outcome of the game.
Johns Creek has now won three straight games since losing to Jones (FL) on Aug. 30. The Gladiators are in control in the region and have a bye week before traveling to Pope on Oct. 11.
For Northview, the Titans travel to North Atlanta for another region matchup on Oct. 4. With their remaining five games all against region opponents, the Titans face a crucial stretch in the second half of the season.