EDITOR'S NOTE: This article about the Roswell vs. Milton game was written from the Hornets' side of the field. Eagles fans, add your comments about favorite moments of the game at the end of this article.
The most dated rivalry in all of North Fulton added yet another chapter to its already robust almanac Friday night as the Roswell Hornets went head to head with the Milton Eagles for the 58th time in the two teams' 62-year rivalry, losing 31-45.
The game, which was anything but devoid of scoring, seesawed for the majority of the night. But eventually, it came down to the dwindling minutes of the fourth quarter. Down 31-38, the Roswell defense, which forced several key stops as the game came to fruition, was able to stop the Eagle’s overbearing rushing attack and force a punt. However, a special teams blunder may haunt the Hornets for weeks, maybe even years considering this rivalry.
Penalized during a 4th and 6 punting situation, Roswell gifted Milton a first down with just less than six minutes left in the game with Roswell down only 31-38. On the very next play, Milton lengthened the score to 45-31 with a 38-yard touchdown run, firmly putting the game out of the Hornet’s reach.
Offensive playmaker and opposing defensive nightmare Andrew Kwateng took the reigns of a struggling Roswell offense early on and never looked back.
Despite gaining only one yard on his first five carries, Kwateng jump-started a then flailing Hornet’s offensive attack with a 48-yard touchdown explosion late in the first quarter. Kwateng, who has been anything but ordinary this season, followed up his first touchdown with a 57-yard Marshawn Lynch-esque “Get Off Me” touchdown run. With his struggles in the early stages of the first quarter all but forgotten, Kwateng managed to collect 146 yards on 15 carriers in the second half alone.
As if two touchdowns of 48-plus yards were not enough, Kwateng added a 75-yard highlight reel touchdown run in the third quarter. Plowing his way through the Eagle defensive front, Kwateng racked up 308 yards rushing, managing to average 11.4 yards per carry.
Four games into the young season, Kwateng has already managed to amass 884 yards and eight touchdowns. Amazingly, Kwateng has ellipsed his Georgia 6-AAAAA all-region running back sophomore season totals, in which he ran for 808 yards and six touchdowns, and almost double his totals from his injury riddled 2011 campaign, in which he gained 421 yards in only four games of limited work.
Unfortunately for Kwateng and the Hornets, the Eagle’s running game packed a equally deadly punch that would stifle any defensive unit no matter how talented. Led by 6 foot 2 inch basketball guard and quarterback A.J. Bush, Milton took the popular, and rather effective, run first approach against the Hornets defense. With help from their talented core of young running backs, the Eagle’s slashed through the heart of the Roswell defense, rushing the ball 43 times for an astounding 382 yards. With four touchdowns and an average of 8.9 yards per carry, Milton had little trouble moving the ball against Roswell.
To say that Roswell has struggled stopping the run all year might be a bit of an understatement. In the past three weeks alone, Roswell has given up 988 yards rushing, surrendering an average of 8.98 yards per carry.
In fact, Milton, Johns Creek, and Lambert all attacked Roswell with a run heavy offensive game plan. During the Hornet's three game losing streak, teams have collectively elected to rush the ball, on average, 79.1 percent of the time, deferring to pass on rare or long yardage occasions.
As the season has matured, senior quarterback Ryan Monty, who at times struggled with consistency last year, has shown signs of vast improvement. With help from fellow seniors John Albert and Bennett Barton, Monty has had success this season airing the ball out, despite having a bit of an off night against Milton on Friday.
What may become an increasing concern for the Hornets in the weeks to come is the offensive line. Recently ravaged by injuries, the Hornets lost starting center Kevin Austin to an ankle injury, right tackle Luis Morales to a metacarpal fracture, and possibly offensive line anchor Zach Adams to a suspected wrist injury that occurred in the final seconds against Milton. A slight concern even before the injuries, the offensive line has been a bit out of sorts to begin the season. While Kwateng and Monty can both handle sufficient opposing pressure, the line woes, at times, have been detrimental to an explosive Roswell offense. Friday night alone, Monty was sacked seven times by the fierce Milton pass rush.
The loss against region rival Milton is discouraging for the talented, budding Roswell team. Despite resolutely possessing the rivalry lead with a 34-23-1 record over Milton, Friday night’s loss marks the first time since 1979 that Roswell lost to Milton in back to back seasons.
Roswell will host Etowah at Ray Manus Stadium next Friday, the first home game since the pounding of Centennial on Aug. 31 at “The Nest”, where the Hornets are undefeated so far this season.
Milton will travel to Wheeler on Sept. 28 for another 5-AAAAAA game. The Eagles are 3-1 (1-0) this season.