By Zach Shugan
MILTON, Ga. — Eagle Nation can rest easy.
Milton entered Friday night with bragging rights — five years worth — over crosstown rival Alpharetta, and that will remain the case for at least one more year.
Milton defeated the Raiders by a score 55-27, as the Eagles’ offense reached the end zone on eight of its 11 drives. The win, which was witnessed by a stadium packed with rowdy fans, marked the sixth straight year Milton has beat Alpharetta and improved the Eagles’ record in the all-time series to 13-3.
“Last year it was awesome that we got to play and at least had some people here, but there were so many big-atmosphere games that we missed that we would have had,” Milton head coach Adam Clack said. “There’s always things to clean up, but I’m really proud of the way the boys played.”
Alpharetta received the opening kickoff and made a statement, scoring in just three plays. Junior quarterback Ben Guthrie, who finished the game with over 400 total yards (23-33 for 350 yds & 1 TD, 7 rushes for 68 yds & 1 TD) hit Matteo Carriere (8 receptions for 114 yds & 1 TD) on a deep ball for a 51-yard touchdown.
Milton responded with a touchdown on its first drive, as well its second and third, to take control of the game. On their first drive, senior running back Jordan McDonald (9 carries, 103 yds & 2 TDs) put the Eagles on the board with a short touchdown run following a fake punt he ran for a 40-yard gain.
The Eagles took the lead on their next drive after Virginia Tech commit Devin Farrell (159 passing yds & 1 TD, 92 rushing yds & 1 TD) tossed a 6-yard touchdown to Michigan State commit Jack Nickel, and they extended it with McDonald’s second touchdown run of the night.
Milton’s fourth drive was the first one that didn’t result in any points for the Eagles. Instead, the Raiders scored on a 55-yard pick six by Cooper Mendlinger, making it a 21-14 game with 5:09 left in the half. The scoring was far from over, though.
Milton jumped out to a 34-14 lead with short but powerful touchdown runs from Adam Freas and Bryce Thornton.
The Raiders had 1:05 on the clock to drive 65 yards and sneak in one more score before halftime. They were successful. Guthrie completed a few passes to move Alpharetta down the field, and on the final play of the half, he worked some magic to avoid a swarm of Eagles and found Garrett Young for a touchdown.
After leading Alpharetta by two scores, 34-20, at halftime, the Eagles added to it on the first drive of the second half with a 15-yard touchdown run by Freas (2 rushes for 17 yds & 2 TDs, 4 receptions for 43 yds).
Despite trailing by 21 points on the road, Alpharetta didn’t roll over and play dead. The Raiders cut into Milton’s lead on their next drive with a 2-yard touchdown run by Guthrie (7 carries, 68 yds & 1 TD). However, that ended up being the final time Alpharetta scored.
And just like Milton did in the first half, it scored touchdowns on each of its first three drives in the second half. Farrell put the moves on the Raiders to run for a 47-yard touchdown, and on their next drive, the Eagles scored on a short run by Scott Moskowitz (12 carries, 78 yds & 1 TD).
Milton (5-1, 1-0), which entered the game ranked No. 4 in Class 7A by the Atlanta Journal Constitution, plays at Etowah (0-5, 0-1) next week.
“We call this phase seven of eight,” Clack said. “Everything we’ve been doing since January builds to this moment. And then each week from here on out you got to go 1-0. There’s four teams [in the region] that will get in the playoffs, but you want that one seed. You really want that one seed. That puts you in the best position in the tournament, and that’s all that matters. Our goal is to play as long as we can possibly play and play as many games as we can possibly play.”
For Alpharetta (1-5, 0-1), the gauntlet in their schedule is over. The Raiders won their first game of the season against Chattahoochee, 35-0, but have since dropped five in a row against five nationally-ranked opponents (Hoover (AL), Grayson, North Cobb, Collins Hill and Milton). The Raiders host winless Woodstock (0-6, 0-1) next week and then have a bye.