Milton 39, Colquitt County 37

No. 10 Eagles advance to 7A semifinals, will travel to Grayson

The Milton Eagles overcame a less-than-ideal start on Friday in the Class 7A quarterfinals to take control in the second half, then withstood a comeback attempt to beat the Colquitt County Packers 39-37.

The No. 10 Eagles (11-2), a No. 1 seed from Region 6, will travel No. 6 Grayson, a No. 1 seed from Region 4, after Grayson beat Buford 19-14. Grayson will host next week after the GHSA’s universal coin toss for the semifinals determined teams on the top half bracket will host when like-seeded teams meet.

It was the second time in five years that the Eagles beat the undefeated Packers as underdogs. They beat the Packers 14-13 in the 2018 7A championship to give them their only loss of the season and claim the Eagles’ only title.

The Packers took the opening drive 56 yards in less than a minute, taking an 8-0 lead on Day’Shawn Brown’s 4-yard run. They’d take a 15-7 lead after two of Milton’s first three drives ended in Luke Nickel interceptions on the first play.

Nickel would settle in, however, tossing four touchdowns and rushing for another. He completed 20 of his 32 passes for 296 yards and had 16 carries for 119 yards — all team highs.

His leading receiver was Debron Gatling, who had 11 catches for 134 yards and a touchdown.

“Coach told us it was going to be a close game,” Gatling said. “It was an even matchup, and we knew there might be some ups and downs. We’re a brotherhood and a team and we fought together, kept on believing in each other and got the W.”

The Packers led 18-7 and 25-14 before the Eagles closed the gap to 25-22 at halftime on Nickel’s 9-yard run and 2-point conversion pass to Tristen Payne.

The Eagles opened the second half with possession and extended the drive by faking a punt on fourth-and-6 from their own 27 with a 10-yard run from AJ Benton. Four plays later, they took the lead for good on a 29-yard Nickel-to-Payne pass.

The Packers’ next drive ended in an interception on the first play, and the Eagles took over on the Colquitt County 23 and scored on the second play of the drive, a 28-yard pass from Nickel to CJ Wiley, which made it 36-25 with 7:09 left in the third.

The Eagles would score only one more time on an Alex Nover 21-yard field goal to make it 39-31 with 9:35 left in the game.

The Packers scored their final touchdown with 3:52 left on Ny Carr’s 15-yard reception, which brought the score to its final margin, but they failed to tie the game on a 2-point conversion when quarterback Neko Fann’s run was stuffed at the 1.

The Packers had one last drive with 1:05 left and no timeouts, from their own 18-yard line, but the drive sputtered on the 28 as time expired.

The No. 3 Packers, who were a 13-point favorite over Milton, finish 12-1. Fann was 18 of 33 for 313 yards and four touchdowns to two interceptions. Zay Williams had three catches for 82 yards and a touchdown, Carr had three catches and a touchdown for 85 yards, and Landen Thomas had six catches for 69 yards and two touchdowns.

Colquitt County 15 10 0 12 — 37

Milton 7 15 14 3 — 39

C — Day’Shawn Brown 4 run (Ny Carr pass from Zay Williams)

M — Debron Galtling 34 pass from Luke Nickel (Alex Nover kick)

C — Landen Thomas 11 pass from Neko Fann (Brett Fitzgerald kick)

C — Fitzgerald 28 FG

M — Ryan Ghea 21 pass from Nickel (Nover kick)

C — Zay Williams 50 pass from Fann (Fitzgerald kick)

M — Nickel 9 run (Tristen Payne pass from Nickel)

M — Payne 29 pass from Nickel (Nover kick)

M — CJ Wiley 28 pass from Nickel (Nover kick)

C — Thomas 15 pass from Fann (pass failed)

M — Nover 21 FG

C — Ny Carr 15 pass from Fann (run failed)