MILTON, Ga. – Season-opening games often produce unusual occurrences, and that certainly was the case in Aug. 30’s Alpharetta-Milton game.
The Milton Eagles escaped with a 31-24 overtime victory on their home field despite rushing for 0 yards in the second half with just 24 yards of total offense.
The Eagles led 24-13 at the half and made it to overtime with the help of an Alpharetta penalty, which was called after the Raiders’ ball carrier on the play was seemingly in the end zone. The Raiders settled for a field goal to tie the game, and after Milton scored first in overtime, Alpharetta fumbled on the next play to hand the win to the Eagles.
“Two years ago, Milton would have lost this game,” Eagles coach Howie DeCristofaro said. “We didn’t play well offensively or defensively in the second half, and we could have folded. I’m happy with the way the kids hung in there.”
Alpharetta coach Jason Dukes said he was unhappy with the penalty that nullified what would have been the go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter, but was also displeased with the way his defense tackled in the first half.
Milton’s Treyvon Paulk piled up 206 yards rushing in the opening period, even though about half of his carries produced negative yards. The Raiders held Paulk to 4 yards rushing in the second half before he shook loose for runs of 7 and 8 yards in overtime, the latter for the winning touchdown.
The Milton defense, which played well apart from two plays in the first half, kept the Eagles in the game, stopping the Raiders several times in Milton territory in the final two periods plus overtime.
“We did not come here and execute the way we should have,” Dukes said. “Our youth showed a little bit. The only way we’re going to get through struggles like this is to experience a game like this.”
Paulk got loose down the sideline for 85 yards and a touchdown on Milton’s first play from scrimmage. But the Raiders retaliated when ace receiver Daniel Clements made a juggling reception for a 72-yard catch-and-run score from first-time starting quarterback Austin King.
The first of two interceptions by Milton’s Jordan Parisian led to a short drive by the Eagles that ended on Micco Brisker’s 7-yard run.
The Eagles made it 17-7 on a 22-yard Jordan Genovese field goal following a 38-yard run by Paulk to the Alpharetta 9.
The Raiders scored with one minute left in the half on an 80-yard strike down the middle from King to Andre Harton. But Milton’s Chad Toliver returned the kickoff into Alpharetta territory, something he did four times on the night.
Paulk broke loose for 45 yards and a score on the next play to make it 24-13 at the half.
Defenses and turnovers ruled the second half until the Raiders put together a 64-yard drive that ended on a 2-yard touchdown run by Miles Smith on the first play of the fourth quarter. King passed for 50 yards on the drive, and pulled the Raiders within 24-21 on a two-point pass to Clements.
Alpharetta would have taken the lead on a 48-yard run by Lem Cobbs midway through the final period, but the Raiders were called for a block in the back after Cobbs appeared to have crossed the goal line.
The Raiders settled for Ryan Kopec’s tying 26-yard field goal, but failed on three straight plays needing only 2 yards for a first down inside the Milton 40 in the late going.
The game ended on Alpharetta’s fourth turnover of the game, with Milton digging out the fumble after the Raiders put the ball on the ground.
Paulk finished with 225 yards on 27 attempts, accounting for all but 32 yards of the team’s total offense. The Eagles completed only two passes, none in the first half, and did not get their 10th first down until overtime, but committed just one turnover.
King completed 21 of 38 passes for 323 yards and two TDs, but had a hand in all of the turnovers and missed a wide open Clements for what would have been a third quarter score. Clements and Harton combined for 11 catches for 263 yards.