By David Purdum / For the AJC
Milton ran over last season’s surprise and made a case to be one of this year’s upstarts with an impressive 35-28 win over No. 8 Alpharetta on Friday.
The visiting Eagles racked up 430 yards on the ground against a talented Raider front and took home the inaugural Mayor’s Trophy.
Peyton Barber led Milton’s ground game with 225 yards. Treyvon Paulk added 109 yards, highlighted by a 41-yard touchdown run that put the Eagles in command, 21-7 late in the third quarter.
The Raiders answered with a scoring drive, featuring a 41-yard completion from Josh Dobbs to Carlos Burse and capped by DeAndre Wise’s recovery of a Dobbs’ fumble in the end zone that cut the deficit to seven.
But Milton would answer with two more clinching scores. Paulk’s second touchdown, a two-yard plunge, and a 9-yard bootleg scamper by quarterback A.J. Bush put the Eagles up 35-14 with nine minutes to play.
Alpharetta wouldn’t go quietly, though. Dobbs hooked up with Daniel Clements for a 9-yard touchdown pass. The Raiders recovered the ensuing onside kick, and Dobbs raced 46 yards on the next play for a touchdown that made it 35-28 with 1:35 to play.
Dobbs, who has committed to Arizona State, finished 20 of 38 for 234 yards two touchdowns and two interceptions. He also rushed for 138 yards and a score.
“That’s a very good team we played tonight,” said Alpharetta coach Jason Dukes. “We probably won’t face an offensive line that big the rest of the season.”
The Raiders were one of the state’s biggest surprises last season, going 9-2 and winning the program’s first region title. With a talented returning core, they are considered the favorites in Region 6-AAAAAA.
Milton, on the other hand, entered unranked and with tempered expectations in Region 5-AAAAAA. Those expectations have been raised after Friday’s performance.
“I came in here a year ago and needed to change some things, change how we did things, change the culture,” said Milton coach Howie DeCristofaro. “Now, my expectations are to compete for a region title and win a playoff game. Milton hasn’t won a playoff game since you or I were born, 1953.”
The Raiders marched 80 yards in 15 plays on their opening possession, with Rodney Morris winning a jump-ball in the corner of the end zone to give Alpharetta an early 7-0 lead. But that would be the end of the Raiders’ scoring in the first half.
They threatened twice more inside Milton territory, but were plagued by untimely penalties and dropped passes.
After forcing a turnover on downs, Milton took over at its own 14 with three minutes to play. DeCristofaro seemed content to run out the clock, before Bush busted free on a 36-yard scamper down to the Alpharetta 7-yard line. Three plays later, Bush would sneak over left tackle for the go-ahead touchdown with 30 seconds left before half.
Milton Super 11 defensive end Carl Lawson, who is committed to Auburn, was a terror off the edge and put constant pressure on Dobbs.
Alpharetta travels to Harrison next week, while Milton returns home to host Johns Creek.