Milton 41, Cherokee 29

Credit: Jason Getz

Credit: Jason Getz

The Milton Eagles are Region 5-7A champions for the third year in a row, defeating the Cherokee Warriors 41-29 on Friday at Tommy Baker Field in Canton.

The No. 10 Eagles (9-0, 5-0), who also accomplished their first undefeated regular season since 1952, will host Peachtree Ridge next week in the opening round of the 7A playoffs.

The Warriors (8-2, 3-2) saw their loss compounded when winless Etowah beat Alpharetta, meaning they dropped from hosting as a No. 2 seed to traveling as a No. 3 seed. They’ll play at North Gwinnett next week.

The Eagles were nearly unstoppable on the ground, led by a dominant performance from junior Jordan McDonald, who rushed for 271 yards and four touchdowns on 22 carries. McDonald is a 3-star running back with 20 offers, including Florida State, Georgia Tech, Indiana and LSU. His teammate in the backfield, quarterback Devin Farrell — also a junior 3-star — rushed 14 times for 68 yards, including two key third-down conversions in a deciding fourth quarter drive that chewed more than seven minutes of clock and ended on McDonald’s 7-yard touchdown run, making it 34-22 with 2:02 remaining.

The Warriors immediately responded with a four-play, 71-yard scoring drive that took just 59 seconds, with Warriors quarterback AJ Swann completing all four of his passes, including a 6-yard touchdown to Hayden Shockley to make it 34-29 with 1:02 remaining.

All hope for the Warriors was dashed on the very next play from scrimmage, however, when McDonald sprinted 44 yards for the game’s final score after the Eagles recovered the onside kick.

Swann put forth a valiant effort for the Warriors, completing 27 of his 36 passes for 413 yards and three touchdowns. The junior 3-star has one mid-major offer. His leading receivers were Adarrius Harshaw (13 catches for 153 yards and a touchdown) and Brady Bocherer (seven catches, 131 yards).

Aside from Milton’s punishing run game, the difference was two Cherokee special teams turnovers that Milton converted into two touchdowns. With 8:18 left in the half, the Warriors lined up to punt from their own 38, but a high snap sailed over the punter’s head all the way to the end zone, and Milton defensive lineman Dayne Edwards won the foot race to recover it and put the Eagles ahead 14-6.

With 4:32 left in the third, Cherokee muffed a punt and the Eagles recovered on the Warriors 26. That drive ended in a 5-yard touchdown run for Bryce Thornton to give Milton a 27-15 lead with 3:03 left in the third.

Milton 7 7 13 14 — 41

Cherokee 0 15 0 14 — 29

M — Jordan McDonald 8 run (Jason Aussin kick)

C — AJ Swann pass from Riley Lyons (kick failed)

M — Dayne Edwards fumble recovery in end zone (Christian Colasurdo kick)

C — LJ McNeil 68 pass from Swann (pass failed)

C — Joel Stahl 33 FG

M — McDonald 72 run (run failed)

M — Bryce Thornton 5 run (Aussin kick)

C — Addarrius Harshaw 22 pass from Swann (Stahl kick)

M — McDonald 7 run (Aussin kick)

C — Hayden Shockley 4 catch from Swann (Stahl kick)

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