Milton 44, Roswell 34

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Eagles in driver’s seat for 4th consecutive region title

In a matchup between two of the highest scoring teams in the state, and with a region title on the line, it was the Milton Eagles who prevailed with a 44-34 win over the Roswell Hornets on Friday at Ray Manus Stadium.

The No. 4-ranked Eagles (7-1, 3-0 in Region 5-7A) exceeded their 39.9 scoring average with timely big plays, particularly following Roswell miscues, and they’re on their way to a fourth consecutive region title. Their remaining games — where they’ll be heavy favorites — are against Woodstock (0-7, 0-2) and Cherokee (4-4, 2-1).

“Ain’t no region championship yet,” Eagles coach Adam Clack said. “What we said all week was, ‘We can’t win it tonight but we can certainly lose it, because I don’t think anybody else can beat Roswell. So, we’re proud of that. We’re proud we gave ourselves control of our destination. Whether it results in a region championship or not, we still gotta get back to work to get better.”

Even if the Eagles clinch 5-7A, that’s not the ultimate mission.

“We want to win it all,” Clack said. “There’s no ifs, ands or buts. That’s the expectation and the goal for this team, and we’re not there yet. We can’t waste (time). We’ve got to go to work to get better so we can catch the teams that we’re chasing.”

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)

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