Pictured: Jordan McDonald (5), Tyhler Williams (74), Zyere Hornton (28), LT Overton (9) (Josh Major)
Pictured: Jordan McDonald (5), Tyhler Williams (74), Zyere Hornton (28), LT Overton (9)

Josh Major

Milton vs. Duluth: Eagles First Playoff Test

November 12, 2021

Milton, GA- On a cold Friday night Milton defeated Cherokee by a score of 42-14 becoming region champions for four years in a row. Milton has made history becoming the only program in the state with four straight region championships. With their win, the Eagles were rewarded with a number one seed in the state playoffs.

Milton will begin the playoffs by welcoming in the Wildcats of Duluth. Last week the Wildcats beat Dunwoody to clinch their spot in this year’s playoff. The winner of Milton vs Duluth will go on to play the winner of Tift County vs Marietta, while the loser will have their season come to an abrupt end.

 

Duluth Impact Players

QB Lonnie Ratliff (Sr.)- 162 completions, 2968 passing yards, 29 total touchdowns, 45 carries, 242 rushing yards, 117 QBR

WR Rishon Spencer (Sr.)- 50 catches, 840 yards, 8 touchdowns

WR Evan Thomas (Sr.)- 35 catches, 827 yards, 7 touchdowns

The last time Duluth made the playoffs was 1994, yes it has been 27 years since the Wildcats have made the post-season. Duluth enters this game with a 5-5 record and as heavy underdogs. Duluth found wins against Berkmar, Discovery, North Clayton, Lakeside and Dunwoody and have losses coming against Daniel (SC), Lambert, Meadowcreek, Norcross and Archer. Duluth would want nothing more than to knock off a highly rated Milton team and continue their march to a state championship.

Heading this offense is Senior quarterback Lonnie Ratliff. Ratliff is one of the best passers in the state racking up 2968 yards this season. Last week Ratliff completed 23 passes for 404 yards and three touchdowns. He also rushed on three carries for 17 yards.

Duluth’s top rusher last week was Junior running back River Thompson-Brown. Thompson-Brown had 10 carries for 62 yards and two touchdowns.

Senior Caylon Washington had eight catches for 191 yards and two touchdowns. Senior receiver Evan Thomas made six catches for 87 yards. Sophomore receiver Jamarion Williams had six catches for 85 yards and one touchdown. Senior receiver Rishon Spencer had three catches for 42 yards.

Defensively the Wildcats tend to play good against struggling teams and play bad against great teams, a theme that has haunted them all year. Duluth is letting opponents score 25 points per game on average.

 

Milton Impact Players

QB Devin Farrell (Sr.)- 117 completions, 1547 passing yards, 28 total touchdowns, 73 carries, 609 rushing yards, 130 QBR

RB Jordan McDonald (Sr.)- 100 carries, 873 yards, 8.7 yards per carry, 15 total touchdowns

S Bryce Thornton (Jr.)- 60 tackles, 3 tackles for loss, 3 interceptions, 2 interceptions returned for touchdowns, 1 forced fumble

Milton is coming off yet again another blowout region win against Cherokee. Milton did a spectacular job running the ball last week, setting a record for rushing yards in a game this season. Milton will need to do much of the same to take care of Duluth this Friday night.

Senior quarterback Devin Farrell had a phenomenal game against the Warriors. Rushing for 202 yards, Farrell set an individual record for most rush yards in a game for 2021. Additionally, he had 161 yards passing on 16 completions and five total touchdowns.

Senior running back Jordan McDonald had 13 carries for 79 yards and two touchdowns.

Milton’s leading receiver was Sophomore Debron Gatling. Gatling made four catches for 75 yards and one touchdown. Senior tight end Jack Nickel had four catches for 41 yards. Senior receiver Adam Freas caught two balls for 40 yards. Senior receiver Brooks Bortle had one catch for ten yards.

Senior offensive linemen Mo Clipper, Tyhler Williams, Brandon Best, Kayden Richardson, Ben Hartman and Trey Harding have played a vital part in the success of the offense for the entire season. They will need to keep that momentum rolling into the post-season to keep this team driving.

The Eagles did a great job at containing AJ Swann and limiting his impact in the game. Cherokee was only able to come up with 14 points, far from what they needed to win. Milton will have another big test when Lonnie Ratliff comes in.

Leading the Eagles in tackles was Junior safety Robert Billings. Billings recorded nine tackles and one blocked punt. Senior cornerback Cam Canion made five tackles, one tackle for loss and two pass deflections. Junior safety Bryce Thornton recorded four tackles, one tackle for loss and one pass deflection. Junior cornerback Brayden Holmes had four tackles.

Senior linebacker Owen Pauley played an excellent game racking up nine tackles, one pass deflection and one interception. Senior linebacker Zyere Hornton had eight tackles. Junior linebacker Caleb Moran made seven tackles and one tackle for loss. Senior linebacker Dylan Miller made five tackles and two tackles for loss.

Senior defensive lineman AJ Crawford had three tackles, one tackle for loss and one sack. Junior defensive lineman LT Overton made three tackles. Senior defensive lineman Giles Tchio made three tackles. Junior defensive lineman Wyatt Smalley recorded two tackles and one tackle for loss.

Keys to Victory: Duluth

For Duluth, this matchup is extremely high stakes. Duluth will have to play near perfect to come out with the win against a talented Milton team. Ratliff will need to hit his open receivers for big gains and explosive plays. However, Duluth will also need to keep the ball in their hands for the majority of the game. On defense, the Wildcats will need to be in the backfield to disrupt Milton’s offensive rhythm.

Keys to Victory: Milton

For Milton, you can not just walk by a four seed. Milton will need to be more physical and more dominant to quickly put away Duluth. McDonald should have a big game against a weak Duluth front seven and the offensive line should have a field day as well. Defensively the d line will need to put pressure on Ratliff and put him on the ground and make him throw bad passes.

 

Score Prediction

Milton/48

Duluth/13

Offensive Player of the Game: Jordan McDonald

Defensive Player of the Game: LT Overton

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