By Kevin Eickman
What a difference attitude can make. Last season the Milford Buccaneers traveled down to Indian River high school, and left with literally nothing to show for it. Manhandled by the eventual state champion Indians, Milford lost 41-0 in a game that was not as close as the score indicated. In that game last year, Milford got down early and stayed down.
That was last year. What Milford is quickly learning about this year’s squad is that the word quit is not in their vocabulary. With the Buccaneer defense having a hard time containing the high powered Indian River offense, Milford answered the call again and again. In a contest that turned from a football game into a track meet, the Milford Bucs made a statement in the second game of the season.
Milford fell behind 9-0 in the 2nd quarter and did not even register their initial first down until seven minutes remained in the half. The Buccaneers gained their footing and drove to a crucial touchdown with just three minutes remaining before halftime.
Octavion Wilson continued his outstanding play as he exploded on a trap play that brought Milford the confidence they seemed to be lacking for most of the game. “O.T.”, as his teammates call him, echoes the Buccaneer family sentiment. “We have heart, it’s what this team is all about,” he said.
Suddenly, the Buccaneers began to play with more confidence, and suddenly an offense that had been dormant, became dominant. Senior quarterback Nick Jefferson connected on a beautiful 22 yard corner route to Nathan Poore, the second week in a row the two have clicked in a big spot. With the ball at the one yard line, it was a quarterback dive up the middle that gave Milford their first touchdown of the evening. The touchdown was the first of two on the evening for the emerging leader, but he knows this was all about the team effort “Nobody gave us a chance, but we are a family, we stick together,” Jefferson commented. “Nobody thinks we can win but us, but us is all we need.”
With a 9-7 Indian river halftime lead, there was little indication that there was an offensive explosion about to occur. Indian River took the opening kickoff and ran it down the Buccaneers throat, missing the extra point to give the Indians a 15-7 lead.
From this point on the game developed into a big play smorgasbord, with outstanding athletes from both teams barely giving those witnessing it a chance to catch their breath. Wilson had a big kickoff return to set the Bucs up with good field position. The drive was capped off by a 20 yard scamper by Vance Daniels and the two point conversion knotted the score at 15.
Indian River responded with a quick score on a 65 yard run by Marquel Knight playing from the quarterback position; the senior left the Milford defense tackling air all evening long. With the extra point the score was 22-15.
On the ensuing drive the Bucs stalled and had to punt, but as is rapidly becoming the case someone else stepped up to make a play. This time it was the Bucs kicker Philip Berry, pinning the Indians at their own six yard line. The Bucs held strong, forcing a three and out punt. On the punt the Buccaneers junior Andrew Marshall continued his improved play, bursting up the middle and blocking the punt, setting up the Bucs at the six yard line of the Indians. Vance Daniels quickly ran the ball into the end zone, with a successful extra point Milford tied the score at 22 with 5:41 left in the third quarter.
Milford finally came up with the defensive stop they so desperately needed, taking over at their own 35 yard line. The Buccaneers drove deep into Indians territory, the key play coming on a 23 yard pass play to the 11 yard line. Milford completed the scoring drive on a 6 yard scoring drive by Nick Jefferson; the extra point gave the Bucs a 29-22 lead at the start of the 4th quarter.
The expected response by Indian River was firm and fast marching down the field as they scored from six yards out and increasing their score to 29 with 8:22 left in the game. Following a monster run by Octavion Wilson to the Indian River 21 yard line, Milford junior running back Geophte Augustin scampered in for the final Buccaneer touchdown of the evening. With another successful conversion Milford enjoyed a 36-29 advantage, for about the blink of an eye. Indian River scored almost immediately on a 65 yard run by Jalen Griffin, but a failed extra point attempt provided Milford with their one point margin of victory.
Milford will travel on the road for the first time this season, as they face Sussex Tech next Friday night at 7:30. Coach Tkach knows that this is a Ravens’ team that comes ready to play. “They know how to play football and we need to be ready,” commented Tkach. “They are a very good team, there is no doubt we will have to play our best.”