Peyton Barber led Milton (6-3, 4-2) with 122 yards and three touchdowns on just 12 carries. Treyvon Paulk added 84 yards and two scores on the ground.
Milton wasted no hurry jumping in front, forcing Cherokee (1-8, 0-6) to a three-and-out on the game’s opening series. On the Eagles’ subsequent possession, quarterback A.J. Bush needed only three plays to lead his team to the end zone, finding receiver Malik Mitchell on a high fade route for a 7-yard score and a 7-0 lead just under 2 minutes into the game.
When Cherokee fumbled on its next possession, Milton started with great field position at the Warriors’ 20-yard line, and again found the end zone on a 1-yard dive by Paulk.
The Milton offense had run only eight plays and was now up 14-0.
“I thought we played very well (Friday),” Milton coach Howie DeCristofaro said. “We made a lot of mistakes in the last two weeks against Walton and Lassiter, and things came to a head and we played well.”
Barber and Paulk again crossed the goal line in the second quarter to extend the Milton lead to 28-0 before Cherokee was able to get on the board.
Late in the first half, Cherokee quarterback Hunter Wingfield led a nine-play, 80-yard drive, finishing in a 9-yard scoring run by the versatile junior.
Up 28-7 in the third quarter, Barber ended any hopes of a Cherokee comeback when he leapt over the line of scrimmage, landed on his feet, and raced down the sideline for a 51-yard scoring run, putting the game beyond any doubt and Milton ahead 35-7.
The Eagles’ Joe Phillips added the final score of the night when he intercepted Cherokee’s Preston Williams in the fourth quarter and returned the ball 18-yards to the end zone for a 49-7 Milton advantage.
Cherokee coach Josh Shaw is now left to look forward to next week’s season finale, with the Warriors will host Wheeler.
“We need to eliminate mistakes,” Shaw said. “We tend to dig ourselves a hole, and whenever we make one good play, we tend to make another bad one. We’re going to have a spirited week of practice, and our seniors are going to continue to fight and lead this team.”
Milton came into the game with heavy hearts after it learned recently that offensive line coach Mike Scott, a Holly Springs resident, had been diagnosed with the terminal stages of pancreatic cancer.
Shaw addressed the crowd before and after Friday’s game, thanking them for large donations made to a fund for the Scott family.
“Cherokee is lucky to have coach Shaw,” said DeCristofaro, a one-time co-worker of Shaw’s on the staff of former Etowah coach Bill Stewart. “I think this was a nice situation where everyone came together and did something good.”