MILTON, Ga. - The defending state champion Milton Eagles beat the North Forsyth Raiders 33-9 on Friday at The Colosseum to win Region 5-AAAAAAA for the second year in a row.
The No. 10-ranked Eagles (7-3, 5-0 in region play) will host at least the first two rounds, starting next week with Central Gwinnett, the No. 4 seed from Region 7.
"It's huge to ride the momentum that we've built the last four weeks," said Eagles coach Adam Clack on the first back-to-back region titles in program history. "It positions us best to make a run."
The Raiders finish 6-4, 3-2 and will be either the No. 2 or 3 seed depending on which team won the South Forsyth at West Forsyth game. If South Forsyth won, the Raiders take the No. 2 seed and host the first round. If West Forsyth won, the Raiders take the No. 3 seed and travel.
The Eagles put the game away during a brief stretch late in the first half, scoring 15 points in 12 seconds. First, Ahmad Junearick caught Devin Farrell's screen pass and ran it 62 yards for the score and on the play, North Forsyth was called for a personal foul. The Eagles took the point after attempt from the 2-yard line and Jordan McDonald punched it up the middle for the two-point conversion, making it 11-3 with 2:02 left in the second quarter.
On the ensuing kickoff, Christian Armistead ripped the ball from the Raiders' return man and ran 24 yards for another score. That made it 18-3 with 1:50 left — a score that would hold through halftime.
"When Christian Armistead was able to strip that and score that really just ignited everyone," Clack said.
Earlier in the half, the two teams exchanged field goals, with the Raiders opening the scoring on Will Peltz's 22-yard field goal 10 minutes into the game. Early in the second quarter, Jason Aussin responded with a 30-yard field goal on the Eagles' next possession.
Raiders running back Jared Lucero left with an ankle injury midway through the first quarter and didn't return. He'd been the Raiders' most effective runner to that point and left after a 15-yard gain, finishing with 37 yards on six carries.
In the second half, the Eagles outscored North Forsyth 15-6, with Farrell slamming the door shut on the Raiders with a 40-yard touchdown run with 8:15 left in the game, which brought the score to its final margin.
Farrell led all rushers with 134 yards on just eight carries.
The Eagles beat Colquitt County in last year's AAAAAAA title game in one of the biggest upsets in GHSA championship history. The Eagles were a two-loss team, 21-point underdogs according to Maxwell's projections and had never before won a state title.
Their win over North Forsyth gives them their fourth region title in a program history that dates back to 1950. Clack, in his third season, has guided the team to two of those titles, with the others coming in 2014 and 1952.
The Raiders, under fourth-year coach Robert Craft, will be seeking their first playoff win since 2005.
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