ROSWELL, Ga. – The Roswell-Milton rivalry, totally dominated for 25 years by the Hornets from 1983-2007, has clearly turned in Milton’s favor in recent years and may continue in that direction for the immediate future.
The Eagles defeated Roswell for the third straight year, and for the fourth time in the last six meetings, scoring a decisive 33-3 victory last Friday night, Sept. 20, on the Hornets’ home field.
Milton dominated the game on both sides of the football. Offensively, the Eagles scored on six of seven offensive possessions in one stretch, the lone failure coming on a missed field goal. The Eagles piled up 250 rushing yards despite losing standout tailback Treyvon Paulk to an injury on their first possession.
Defensively, Milton limited Roswell to eight first downs and 170 yards, with two big pass plays accounting for almost half the Hornets’ total. The Eagles kept Roswell out of the end zone after the Hornets had second and goal from the Milton 1 in the second period, forced two key turnovers and put the finishing touches on the win with another stop late in the third quarter with Roswell inside the Eagles’ 15.
The game was the 5-AAAAAA opener for both teams, with the Eagles (4-0) stamping themselves as definite playoff contenders in what appears to be a wide-open region.
Paulk left the game after one carry and one reception, both for losses, in Milton’s first series. Milton coach Howie DeCristofaro said the injury is a strained medial collateral ligament, and expects Paulk to be out “a week or two.”
Milton plays its next two games at Etowah and Wheeler before a week off Oct. 11.
Bruising inside runner Micco Brisker and speedster Chad Toliver took over the bulk of the rushing duties in Paulk’s absence, combining for 214 yards. Brisker (17 carries, 120 yards) hammered the Hornets between the tackles behind an offensive line that has thrived despite the loss of four starters from the 2012 season, including three Division I signees.
Toliver, a senior transfer who started out in Roswell’s feeder program, added 94 yards in just eight attempts including a 25-yard scoring run. He also set up a touchdown with a 39-yard punt return to the Roswell 13.
Chris Turner had three short rushing touchdowns for the Eagles and Jordan Genovese kicked field goals of 38 and 40 yards. Milton’s huge field position advantage played a major role, as the Eagles consistently started from Roswell territory or near midfield. Roswell never began a series from beyond its 20 until the game was out of reach in the fourth quarter.
The Hornets, who managed just 41 yards rushing, went three-and-out three times to open the game before mounting a long drive keyed by a 44-yard pass from Matt Cory to Hunter Coleman. But after getting stopped twice from the Milton 1, the Hornets settled for a field goal.
Brisker and Toliver carried four times for 57 yards, with Toliver sprinting into the end zone from 25 yards to make it 20-3. The Eagles led 23-3 at the half on a late field goal after a Roswell fumble, and added two scores to open the second half behind the running of Brisker and Toliver.
“We’re not a one-man team,” DeCristofaro said. “We have four other backs who are pretty good.”
Chris Purpura contributed two key plays on Milton’s first scoring drive, which Turner capped with the first of his three short touchdown runs.
The Eagles got another big defensive game from linebacker Quarte Sapp, with the Eagles’ secondary playing well other than the two big plays. One was a busted coverage and the other a well-thrown deep ball from Roswell backup quarterback James Whitaker, with Coleman again on the receiving end.
An interception by Lucas Nedza led to the final Milton touchdown.
Roswell (2-2) plays Friday night at Wheeler (2-2), which is also coming off a region opening loss.