Milton 14, Roswell 7

Eagles coach Reaves gets 1st win

It didn’t come easy, but the first win for the Milton Eagles in the Ben Reaves era is in the books after they survived at home against the Roswell Hornets, 14-7 game that featured a scoreless second half.

With 31 seconds remaining and the Hornets facing a fourth-and-3 from the Milton 4, Eagles defensive back Hill Plunkett broke up the pass, forcing a turnover on downs and putting an end to the seemingly limitless opportunities the Hornets had to tie the game.

The Eagles (1-2), unranked in 7A, used their defense — led by another senior, linebacker Will Parton — to prevent a Hornets rally. Parton finished with a forced fumble in the first half and had a pass breakup in the end zone on the Hornets’s next-to-last possession of the game.

The Hornets (3-1), who dropped down to 6A, where they’re ranked No. 3, had three turnovers to Milton’s zero. In the waning seconds of the third quarter, they benched junior starting quarterback KJ Smith after his second interception in favor of senior Hayden Thompson, but to no avail.

Now the Eagles are in the win column after losing to a pair of out-of-state opponents in Lipscomb Academy (Tenn.) and Christian Brothers (Co.) a team they played in Canton, Ohio. Under former coach Adam Clack, who left after last season’s runner-up finish for the college ranks, the Eagles began challenging themselves with a national schedule.

“It feels great to get the win,” Parton said. “Playing a national schedule is hella fun, competing at that level. But coming back here, playing our rivals five miles down the road — there’s nothing better than that. This is the most fun memory I’ve had.”

Roswell opened the scoring with a 3-yard run from Smith with 3:17 left in the first. The Eagles scored their points on a Luke Nickel 2-yard run with 7:42 left in the second quarter, and on a Nickel 65-yard pass to Garrett Spooner with 1:11 left in the half.

Despite getting more than five yards a carry from running back Nykahi Davenport, who finished with 127 yards on 23 carries, the Hornets became increasingly aggressive in the passing game in the second half and eventually changed quarterbacks.

Smith finished 13 of 23 passing for 239 yards and two interceptions, and Thompson was 8-for-18 for 111 yards. Chris Elko had eight catches for 125 yards, and Ethan Nation had five catches for 79 yards.

Of Davenport’s rushing yards, 78 came in the first half.

Nickel finished 16 of 24 passing for 173 yards and a touchdown, and Spooner’s long reception was good enough to lead the Eagles in receiving yards.

The Hornets head into a bye before hosting Johns Creek in their Region 7-6A opener, and Roswell travels to Alpharetta next week for a non-region game.

Roswell 7 0 0 0 — 7

Milton 0 14 0 0 — 14

R — KJ Smith 3 run (Brett Gonda kick)

M — Luke Nickel 2 run (Felipe Mota kick)

M — Garrett Spooner 65 pass from Nickel (Mota kick)