ROSWELL, Ga. – With Milton holding a comfortable halftime lead over Centennial last Friday night, Sept. 13, the biggest question for the Eagles was whether their offense could outscore the defense and special teams.
The offense prevailed 28-24, scoring on the first play of the fourth quarter to finish off a 52-10 victory over the Knights. The victory improved Milton’s record to 3-0, while Centennial fell to 0-3.
The Eagles scored four touchdowns on offense, three on drives of 80, 91 and 75 yards. The Milton defense accounted for two TDs, with kick return ace Chad Toliver responsible for two scores, one coming on a 45-yard field goal by Jordan Genovese.
Toliver, who has returned almost every kickoff he’s handled this season across midfield, sped 97 yards for a touchdown after the Knights drove to a field goal on the game’s first series.
Following a pair of scores by the Milton offense, standout linebacker Quarte Sapp returned a fumble 45 yards to make it 28-10 with 3:30 to play in the first half.
The Knights, who drove for scores on two of their first three possessions, had reached the Milton 35 with a chance to cut into the Eagles’ 21-10 lead. But Milton defenders tackled Centennial backs for losses on the next three plays, stripping the ball from quarterback Matthew Harries on third-and-long. Sapp picked up the football in stride and raced into the end zone for the score that broke the game open.
Milton went 91 yards in six plays to start the second half, with Treyvon Paulk breaking loose for 47 yards and the touchdown. Paulk finished with 136 yards on 20 carries.
The Eagles’ defense scored its next touchdown seconds later, recovering a Centennial fumble in the end zone after the Knights started from inside their 2 due to a mishandled kickoff. Marty Horan fell on the loose ball for the Eagles.
A 37-yard punt return by Toliver set up the Genovese field goal to make it 45-10. A 13-yard pass from Austin McLeod to Micco Brisker capped a 9-play, 75-yard drive to close out the scoring.
It was McLeod’s second TD pass of the game and Brisker’s second score. McLeod tossed a 29-yard strike to Zach Spiezio on third-and-26 to make it 14-3. A 10-yard run by Brisker capped the 90-yard drive to put the Eagles on top 21-10 midway through the second period. Milton converted twice on fourth down to keep the march going.
McLeod was extremely effective operating the Milton offense, completing nine of 10 passes for 131 yards. An interception on a long pass attempt in the waning seconds of the first half was his only misfire. Milton finished with 321 yards of offense, rushing for 190 of that total.
Centennial gained 300 yards and had 19 first downs to Milton’s 18, but the Milton defense clamped down after some early success by the Knights. Toliver was largely responsible for keeping all-state Centennial receiver Christian Robinson in check. Robinson had seven receptions for 72 yards, with just one catch for three yards after halftime.
Linemen Horan and Michael Collins, linebacker Charlie Fault and cornerback Lucas Nedza led the Milton defensive effort along with Sapp and Toliver.
The Knights drove to a field goal on their first series and overcame penalties to gain 98 yards on a touchdown drive to close within 14-10, before the Eagles took complete control of the game.