For the first time in a school history that dates back to 1950, the Milton Eagles are in the state championship game, holding on to beat the Lowndes Vikings 28-17 in the Class AAAAAAA semifinals on Friday at Denmark High Stadium.
The No. 8 Eagles (12-2), advance as the No. 1 seed from Region 8 and will play top-ranked Colquitt County (14-0; No. 1 seed, Region 1), which escaped with a 22-21 overtime win over Archer in Moultrie. The AAAAAAA championship will be played 8 p.m., Wednesday, Dec. 12 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
It was a see-saw game, with the Eagles jumping to a 21-0 lead in the first half before the Vikings (10-4; No. 2 seed, Region 1) scored 17 unanswered to pull to within 21-17 on Ashton Musgrove’s 27-yard field goal with 11:04 remaining. But they couldn’t get any closer, as Milton marched 80 yards on the ensuing possession and brought the score to its final margin on quarterback Jordan Yates’ 11-yard touchdown pass to Holden Shaw with 8:04 remaining.
Yates, who is committed to Georgia Tech, led the Eagles with 181 yards and two touchdowns on 12-of-17 passing, also adding a 6-yard rushing score.
“It’s a great feeling and none of us have ever been here before,” Yates said. “We’ve worked so hard, and this was our goal from the beginning and now we’re here. It’s an honor to be able to play in a place as nice (as Mercedes-Benz) and to get this far.”
The Eagles opened the scoring with 6:05 left in the first quarter on Yates’ 6-yard touchdown run on a drive that began on the Vikings 29. They started with favorable field position when Lowndes fumbled on a punt attempt. Milton scored on its next possession when, on third-and-13, Yates heaved a 50-yard touchdown pass to Dylan Leonard to make it 14-0 with 49.5 seconds left in the quarter.
On the Eagles’ first possession of the second quarter, they used seven plays to move 50 yards, with Josh Edwards running the ball on five of them, including a 1-yard score. He rushed for just 25 yards on the drive, but the Eagles were aided by a 15-yard personal foul penalty.
That would be the last points the Eagles would score until the fourth quarter and in the meantime, the Vikings got back into the game behind their best player, running back and Kentucky commit Travis Tisdale. He would chip away at the Milton defense before breaking a 47-yard touchdown run to give the Vikings their first points, which came with 1:38 left in the half and brought the score to 21-7 heading into the locker room.
Tisdale finished the half with 114 yards on 11 carries.
On the second play of the third quarter, Vikings defensive back Tiberius Drocea picked off Yates — it was the second week in a row Drocea jump-started his team with a second-half interception — to put the Vikings on the Milton 18. Five plays later, Gary Osby’s 2-yard run made it 21-14 with 9:26 left in the third.
However, the Vikings were unable to complete the comeback because they were limited in the passing game, going a combined 6-of-16 for 16 yards and an interception between four passers. Outside of Tisdale, who finished with 169 yards on 25 carries, no other Viking generated more than 15 yards of offense.
Milton 14 7 0 7 - 28
Lowndes 0 7 7 3 - 17
M – Jordan Yates 6 run (Hayden Hairston kick)
M – Dylan Leonard 50 pass from Yates (Hairston kick)
M – Josh Edwards 1 run (Hairston kick)
L – Travis Tisdale 47 run (Ashton Musgrove kick)
L – Gary Osby 2 run (Musgrove kick)
L – Musgrove 27 FG
M – Holden Shaw 11 pass from Yates (Hairston kick)