---- — By Frank Dimon
For The Daily Item
MILTON -- It was the kind of drive offenses love and defenses hate. And with Milton nursing a 13-point second-quarter lead over stubborn Shamokin, it was a march that seemed destined to get the winless Indians back into Saturday night's Heartland Athletic Conference Divison I contest.
After Josh Brown handed Milton a two-touchdown advantage with a 3-yard scoring run on the first play of the second quarter, Shamokin moved from its own 29 to the Milton 10 with 13 efficient plays.
But, after Sean McLaughlin's first-down pass to Draven Miller gained 7 yards to the Milton 10 and John Demsko churned for a pair of yards to the 8, the Black Panthers defense finally dug in with stops on third and fourth downs, each of less than a foot.
The Indians never recovered as Milton unleashed 22 points in the last 3:16 of the first half before coasting to an easy 49-13 homecoming victory.
Brown, who opened the game with a 75-yard touchdown run on the first play from scrimmage and gouged the Indians' defense for 191 yards on 13 carries, ripped off a 47-yard run after the defensive stand. Six plays later Jayson English took an option toss from quarterback Brady Chappell for a 5-yard score.
Two plays after the kickoff, Brown picked off a McLaughlin pass and Chappell immediately hit Clayton Messinger with a 33-yard TD pass. When the Indians fumbled the ensuing kickoff and Milton recovered at the Shamokin 39, Chappell hit Greg Schultz with a touchdown pass with two seconds left in the half.
"The defense set the tone for us in the stretch at the end of the half," said Chappell who had thrown eight touchdowns in the three games. "They handed us the ball and we took advantage of it."
Milton coach George Goodwin was pleased with the big plays his defense made in key situations, as well.
"Those defensive stops took the wind out of their sails and we were able to convert everything into a lot of points," said Goodwin, whose team improved to 4-2 and 1-2 in the HAC-I.
Goodwin preached all week that his team not look past the Indians who have played tough in most of their six losses.
"We told them that you cannot let this team hang around and you need to jump on the them early," Goodwin said. "You never expect to take the first offensive play to the house but that's what Josh did."
Brown broke through the first level of the Shamokin defense and shrugged off a linebacker before racing everyone for his 75-yard score. On Milton's next possession, after a short Shamokin punt, Chappell started his three-touchdown evening with a 34-yard scoring pass to Corey Kriner for a 12-0 lead.
Shamokin answered with a 65-yard march that ended with a 4-yard touchdown run by McLaughlin to slice the lead to 12-7. But Kriner returned the kickoff 37 yards to midfield and the Black Panthers scored seven plays later on a 3-yard run by Brown.