MILTON, Ga. — Milton outperformed South Forsyth Friday night at home in a battle of the two defending Region 5-AAAAAAA champions, a result that will likely have significant impact on this year’s region title race.
Depending on allegiances, fans at Friday’s game either started or ended each quarter with a cause for celebration or a grimace of frustration.
For Milton’s faithful, there was celebration just a few plays into the game. The Eagles started the game on offense and needed just two plays — a 31-yard pass from Devin Farrell to Jack Nickel and a 45-yard Farrell rush — to find the end zone.
Continuing South’s inauspicious start, standout running back Tre Green suffered a leg injury on the War Eagles’ second offensive play and was out for the remainder of the game.
The first quarter ended on a positive note for South, however. After Milton’s Jason Aussin hit a 40-yard field goal to put the Eagles up 10-0, South quarterback Joe Slott hit Colby Cruz with a floated pass on the sideline with Cruz scampering 78 yards for a touchdown with just seven seconds remaining in the first.
Milton’s second quarter started like the first with the Eagles needing under two minutes to find a score. Again it was Farrell with a long rush, a 53-yard run from the middle of the field to the corner of the end zone, that extended Milton’s lead. Farrell compiled 158 yards rushing and 92 yards passing.
The second quarter also ended on a positive note for the Eagles. Milton’s offense took over the ball with 67 seconds left in the period and quickly moved the ball downfield with a 23-yard Nickel reception and a 33-yard connection from Farrell to Jake Walter.
Milton then let the clock run down to just four seconds before Jordan McDonald took a direct snap and charged into the end zone from a yard out to extend Milton’s lead to 24-7.
“The two-minute situation was very big,” Milton head coach Adam Clack said. “It was still just a 17-7 game, and we know [South has] the ability to score fast, like they did (in the first quarter).”
After a scoreless third, South’s quick-strike ability was looming over the Eagles to start the final 12 minutes of play. But again, the Eagles pounced in the opening stages of a period.
South was at midfield to open the fourth, but on their first play of the period Milton’s Jonathan Pittman hit a scrambling Slott, causing a fumble that was smothered by the Eagles’ Zander Barnett.
After another scoreless period, Milton ended the fourth on its highest note — a win.
Milton’s defense had a strong performance throughout its ranks Friday, holding South to 188 total yards, 78 of which came on their touchdown play. Senior cornerback Caron Anderson had two interceptions.
“Caron Anderson stepped in, and he was giving up a ton of size but kept playing with great leverage, and our safety was playing over the top supporting him,” Clack said. “And we’ve got a freshman in Bryce Thornton who has really stepped up and played some balls so well and so naturally. Of course, the defensive line was crucial to the secondary, they continue to be the strength of our team”
Though he was pleased with the win, Clack said the Eagles have not played a full four quarters up to par in region games this season.
“We’ve got to continue to grow and finish off a game the way we start,” he said. “If we can do that, we’re going to be a really good football team.
Though Milton has three region games remaining, the defending 5-AAAAAAA champs have downed perhaps the two toughest hurdles in the region in West Forsyth and South.
“Every region win is huge, and you know South is a team that has the ability to run the table from here on out,” Clack said. “So, that is maybe what makes this one you’ve got to have. With that being said, you can’t sit back because we are going to have three well-coached teams who are going to come in here and try and knock us of, and then you’re right back in it. I feel like we put ourselves in a great position, but now it goes back to that day at a time mindset. Lord knows we have a lot to improve on, so hopefully we can do that.
Milton goes on the road Oct. 24 to face Forsyth Central. South (4-3, 1-1) will travel to take on North Forsyth.