Oct. 29—TURBOTVILLE — Peyton Rearick had about as eventful a four-minute span as you'll see in a football game Friday.
The Milton junior returned a pair of interceptions for touchdowns — only one of which counted as such — and caught a long scoring pass in that relatively brief segment of the first quarter. It highlighted a 29-point surge in the period that propelled the Black Panthers to a 63-7 win over Warrior Run in their Heartland Athletic Conference-Division III finale.
"We knew if we'd just stick to our game plan we'd be fine. We came in and played well," said Rearick. "We emphasized that we had to play four quarters of football this week, and I think we did a really good job on that."
Xzavier Minium rushed for 149 yards and three touchdowns to key Milton's 339-yard ground attack that capped the 9-1 regular season, the most wins the program has celebrated since 2001.
"I think what they're going to take away from (a 9-1 record) is we have a home playoff game finally at home. We're excited about that opportunity," said Black Panthers coach Phil Davis, whose "home" playoff game last season was held at Central Columbia while Alumni Stadium was undergoing renovations.
Milton will be the No. 2 seed in the District 4 Class 4A tournament and host third-seeded Selinsgrove (8-2) in a semifinal game. Unbeaten Jersey Shore will host No. 4 Shamokin (5-5) in the other semi.
The Black Panthers have not faced any of the teams in the Class 4A field this season.
Friday's game couldn't have started much better for Milton, and, conversely, much worse for Warrior Run (3-7 overall, 1-4 HAC-III). The Defenders gained zero yards on two runs and a pass to open the game, and an errant punt snap sailed 23 yards to the goal line. Punter Peyton Snyder was brought down by Black Panthers junior Connor Snyder for a safety just 100 seconds into the game.
Milton took the ensuing free kick and marched 41 yards on four plays with Minium covering the last 26 untouched to the end zone on a third-and-6 play.
Not long after, the Black Panthers had two touchdowns negated by penalty in just eight seconds.
Rearick jumped a route on a pass from midfield and returned the ball 54 yards to the end zone. The play was called back due to an illegal block. Mason Rowe then broke the next play 40 yards for an apparent TD that was wiped out by holding. When the next snap resulted in a procedure penalty, Milton faced first-and-26 from its 44-yard line. Freshman halfback Monty Fisher promptly carried the ball for a 56-yard score, breaking several ankle tackles before he was pushed across the goal line for a 15-0 lead.
Not two minutes later, Rearick snared a pass and raced 43 yards for a pick-6 that counted, putting the Black Panthers up 22-0 with 4:53 left in the first.
"I think the most important part was Coach (Todd) West and Coach (Matt) Wenrich, they really prepared us well this week," Rearick said. "Coming out here was just like practice. We knew what they were going to do. I was just there and made a good play."
Milton intercepted Defenders junior Ryan Newton three times in the first half, including Fisher's pick late in the second quarter that led to a touchdown for a 49-0 lead. Newton entered the game having passed for 1,735 yards and 14 TDs.
"I was concerned coming into this week with their passing game," Davis said. "I thought we had a really good game plan — and I think we do things a little bit differently than most people do — and I think we confused them a little bit. I think we kinda knew what they were going to do, based on some of their formations ... and when Peyton's healthy he's a special player. He showed that tonight."
Rearick punctuated his stellar four-minute stretch of the first quarter by getting behind the defense to haul in a 57-yard scoring strike from Bastian with just less than three minutes to play. Bastian rolled out to his right under pressure from two Defenders and flicked the ball downfield to an open Rearick near the home sideline.
"My job was easy; I just had to run a good route," Rearick said. "Cale did a really good job. He got away from the guys and threw a really good ball. It was all mostly him. I just had to finish the play for him."
The Black Panthers rushed for 263 first-half yards, including two Minium touchdowns and another from Rowe in the second quarter. Minium ran 48 yards from the Wildcat formation on the opening play of the second quarter, and followed Fisher's interception with a 67-yard TD run.
Milton had a trio of one-play scoring drives in the half, or one more than Warrior Run had first downs (two). On two TD runs, it appeared as though the hole opened by the Black Panthers' offensive line allowed the ballcarrier to score untouched.
"I thought they executed again today like they have pretty much all year," Davis said. "I think sometimes we expect perfection from them a little too much, but they played really well. When we get our kids in space, they're tougher to bring down, and we got in space and we were able to score."
Warrior Run got on the board with the first play of the fourth quarter, a 70-yard pass from freshman James Keifer to sophomore Sam Hall. Hall caught the ball just beyond midfield, threw an immediate stiff-arm to break a tackle, and then broke away from another Milton player inside the 15.
Hall finished with six catches for 100 yards, and surpassed 1,000 receiving yards for the season.
MILTON 63, WARRIOR RUN 7
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Milton (9-1, 4-1);29;20;8;6; — 63
Warrior Run (3-7, 1-4);0;0;0;7 — 7
M-Safety, punter tackled in end zone, 10:20
M-Xzavier Minium 26 run (kick failed), 8:45
M-Montgomery Fisher 56 run (Trace Witter kick), 6:39
M-Peyton Rearick 43 interception return (Witter kick), 4:53
M-Rearick 57 pass from Cale Bastian (Witter kick), 2:56
M-X. Minium 48 run (run failed), 11:50
M-Mason Rowe 18 run (Witter kick), 4:16
M-X. Minium 67 run (Witter kick), 2:27
M-Jostein Minyety-Ortiz 16 run (Jaeden Canelo run), 0:56.2
WR-Sam Hall 70 pass from James Keifer (Hunter kick), 11:45
M-Canelo 7 run (no attempt), 2:23
RUSHING — Milton: Xzavier Minium 6-149, 3 TDs; Montgomery Fisher 2-57, TD; Mason Rowe 7-54, TD; Chase Lytle 9-28; Jaeden Canelo 9-25, TD; Jostein Minyety-Ortiz 3-20, TD; Cale Bastian 1-3; Brady Wolfe 1-3. Warrior Run: Thomas Royles 3-13; Stone Allison 6-6; Sam Hall 2-2; Eli Butler 3-0; Ryan Newton 1-(-8); James Keifer 1-(-11); Team 2-(-24).
PASSING — Milton: Bastian 3-4-0, 75 yards, TD; Lytle 1-1-0, 13 yards. Warrior Run: Keifer 5-8-0, 94 yards, TD; Newton 3-11-3, 16 yards.
RECEIVING — Milton: Peyton Rearick 2-69, TD; Ashton Krall 1-13; Cole Rhodes 1-6. Warrior Run: Hall 6-100, TD; Allison 1-6; Butler 1-4.