ROSWELL, Ga. — The 65th edition of Milton vs. Roswell series was another thriller with the Eagles holding off a Roswell comeback in the fourth quarter to take their second over the Hornets in three years. For the second straight contest the game came down the final series. Roswell came away with a touchdown in the final minute to seal their 22-20 win last season, but this year the Eagles held on in a wild fourth quarter.
Roswell scored their first touchdown on the first play of the fourth quarter with a touchdown pass from Ethan Roberts to cut Milton’s lead to 10-6. Milton responded just two minutes later with a touchdown rush from Ahmad Junearick set up by a 41-yard scamper from quarterback Devin Farrell.
Roswell drove the field on their next possession but came away scoreless by failing to convert a fourth-and-6 play in the red zone. However, the Hornets offense was back on the field just moments later after Junearick fumbled while attempting to regain his balance.
Milton forced Roswell into another fourth down play deep in their own territory, but Roberts evaded a heavy Milton rush and connected with Marquis Willis who made several defenders miss before charging into the end zone. A botched hold on the PAT kept the margin at 16-12.
The Hornets defense came up with a huge three-and-out on Milton’s ensuing drive to set up Roswell with a potential game-winning drive starting on Milton’s 38-yard line. With under a minute remaining, Roberts looked for a receiver in the end zone, but Farrell, who is also a starter in the defensive backfield, had tight coverage to set up another Roswell fourth-down play.
Roberts evaded the rush but was forced to escape the pocket. He heaved a shot into the middle of the end zone and Milton’s Jack Rhodes stepped in front of a receiver to make an interception and end the thrilling contest.
After two close loses in which Milton head coach Adam Clack felt the Eagles failed to close out a game they should have won, it was a relief to get the victory.
“Part of me feels we didn’t finish it, we got bailed out,” Clack said. “When we had the ball in the final minutes, we should have finished it there. But with that being said, you can’t say anything more impressive about our defense tonight coming up again and again. Holy smokes, I’m so proud of those guys.”
Milton’s defense held Roswell to under 40 yards before their last drive of the second half, but the Hornets missed a field goal. With the Hornets run-game stymied, they looked to the air and had more success in the second half, finishing the contest with over 100 yards more total offense than the Eagles. Roberts was 17-34 passing with 215 yards.
However, Milton’s defense continued to come up with big plays with their backs against the wall.
The first half belonged to the Eagles. Jason Aussin hit a 45-yard field goal and Junearick had a 29-yard touchdown rush to put Milton ahead, 10-0, at the half.
Jackson Weaver and Farrell split time at quarterback with Weaver throwing for 57 yards to Farrell’s 29. Farrell also led the Eagles in rushing yards.
“A lot of times these kids talk themselves out of what they can do, but [Farrell] has no limit,” Clack said.
After two bitter loses, Clack credited his team for prevailing in the knockout battle of two bitter rivals in a raucous atmosphere.
“It’s huge, and it does mean more in an emotion sense [to beat Roswell],” he said. “Where we are in the season, it meant a lot to me that we came back and turned up the dial in practice. I wanted it for the boys because we’ve been so close, and we’ve made some adjustments and changes in attitude. I’m glad this one worked out because they worked for it and they deserved it.”
Milton and Roswell will both look for some payback Sept. 27. Milton (2-2) faces Parkview after the Eagles’ dramatic comeback fell short in last year’s contest. Roswell (2-1) faces Wheeler, who scored a go-ahead touchdown in the final minute of last year’s contest to hand the Hornets their only regular season loss.