The Wildcats’ defense surrendered 173 rushing yards including a touchdown, to Treyvon Paulk and 128 rushing yards and two scores to Peyton Barber.
“They are just two great athletes,” Wheeler coach Mike Collins said. “They are a heck of duo and difficult to stop. They ran inside but they are good enough to where they can make cuts on the inside and make you miss.”
Elijah Staley threw a touchdown pass to Emanuel Beal for Wheeler (3-2, 0-2 in Region 5AAAAAA), which gave up 300 rushing yards to Etowah last week.
But Friday, the Wildcats’ problems ran a little deeper than just containing the run. For most of the night, Staley never seemed to get in sync with his receivers and the special teams committed miscue after miscue.
As a result, Milton (4-1, 2-0) made them pay.
After an empty possession, JD Barron was forced to punt from his own 41-yard line but unfortunately, his kick went only 12 yards.
Following first-down runs by Barber (13 yards) and Paulk (27 yards), Michael Schweinbeck took the option from AJ Bush and raced into the end zone from 17 yards out for a 7-0 edge with 7 minutes left in the first quarter.
Now facing a 10-0 deficit because of a muffed punt, Barron needed to get the ball out of the Wildcats’ territory again, but the snap was bad and Milton took over at the 15.
On the next play, Barber took the handoff and ran 15 yards for the TD and a 17-0 lead with 36 seconds to go in the frame.
In the second quarter, Wheeler was forced to punt again and it was like a déjà vu. The snap was bad and Lucas Nedza recovered the fumble at Wheeler’s 31-yard line. Five plays later, Paulk ran for a 9-yard touchdown, extending the margin to 24-0 with 8:03 left before halftime.
“Not to take anything away from them,” Collins said. “They played a good football game but I would have liked to seen what would’ve happened if those plays went in another direction.”
Barron would respond with a pair of field goals before the break, but Wheeler never got close enough the rest of the way to truly threaten the Eagles.