For the No. 8 Hornets (6-2, 2-1), who came in averaging 35.1 points, it was a frustrating night in which they let scoring opportunities slip away thanks to miscues and penalties.
After Ethan Nation’s game-opening kickoff return gave the Hornets the ball on their own 39 and they quickly moved to the Milton 26, a bad snap went 15 yards into the backfield. A Hornets player was the first to the ball but instead of falling on it, he tried to scoop it and missed, and the Eagles were there for the recovery on their own 45.
On the next play, Eagles quarterback Devin Farrell broke for a 30-yard run to the Roswell 15. Four plays later, on fourth-and-2 from the 7, he rushed for another 5 yards, setting up Jordan McDonald’s 2-yard touchdown run six minutes into the game.
With seven minutes left in the half and the Milton leading 14-7, Hornets quarterback Robbie Roper was called for intentional grounding in the end zone, resulting in a safety to make it 16-7. After the free kick, Milton took four minutes off the clock with a nine play, 33-yard drive that ended with a 9-yard McDonald reception from Farrell on third-and-goal, making it 23-7 with 2:24 left.
“It’s always those mistakes,” Clack said. “The teams that make the fewest and the teams that capitalize on those mistakes, that can really shift momentum and energy in your favor, and settle you into your game. You don’t ever like playing from behind in games like this....Gaining momentum in the second quarter really helped us.”
The Hornets would respond with a six-play, 82-yard drive that lasted 1:45 and ended with Chris Elko’s 2-yard run with 35 seconds left, which made it 23-13 heading into halftime.
The Eagles would put the game away with a 14-0 third quarter, scoring on their first two drives of the second half. The first was a Brooks Bortle 20-yard run and the second was a 3-yard Jack Nickel reception with 0:50 left.
That proved too steep of a hole for the Hornets, whose 21-0 fourth-quarter run failed to pull them to within single digits of Milton’s lead.
The Hornets had two second-half touchdowns called back for penalties. The first was a false start that came toward the end of the third quarter and negated a 49-yard touchdown pass. The other was an 18-yard touchdown pass that was called back due to holding.
McDonald led all rushers with 129 yards and three touchdowns on 11 carries, and Farrell rushed for 58 yards on eight carries and threw for 76 yards and two touchdowns on 14-of-19 passing.
Roper was 21-of-32 passing for 169 yards and two touchdowns to two interceptions, rushing for a team-high 89 yards on 14 carries.
Milton 7 16 14 7 — 44
Roswell 7 6 0 21 — 34
M — Jordan McDonald 2 run (Felipe Mota kick)
R — Nykahi Davenport 7 run (Brett Gonda kick)
M — McDonald 1 run (Mota kick)
M — Team safety
M — McDonald 9 pass from Devin Farrell (Mota kick)
R — Chris Elko 2 run (run failed)
M — Brooks Bortle 20 run (Mota kick)
M — Jack Nickel 3 pass from Ferrell (Mota kick)
R — Chris Elko 1 run (pass failed)
M — McDonald 48 run (Mota kick)
R — Dylan Williams 14 pass from Roper (Gonda kick)
R — Zeke Moore 25 pass from Roper (Williams pass from Roper)