By Kevin Eickman
It had been over a year since the Milford Buccaneers won a football game, 371 days to be exact. When Milford took the field Friday night, hosting Seaford for homecoming, they where looking to end that. Over the course of 10 consecutive losses, Milford had never given up, never given in. Friday was an example of what perseverance can do for a football team. It probably should not have been this close, it probably should not have come down to the final play, but it did. When Milford needed it most, it was their youngsters, forced into action all season long, that made the plays that needed to be made.
For the third consecutive game, the Milford defense came out on fire, clamping down on the Blue Jays and dominating the game for almost the entire first half. The key to the first half domination was the opening offensive drive. After sophomore Son Martinez took the opening kickoff to the Milford 45 yard line, Milford got a few first downs before punting and pinning Seaford in their own end. They could do little with the ball, and after senior Octavion Wilson returned the punt into Seaford territory, it looked as if Milford would make a quick trip into the end zone. It wasn’t to be as Milford continued their offensive problems turning the ball over at the Seaford 32 yard line with 3:50 left in the first quarter.
Once again the Bucs defense looked solid, as Seaford was forced into yet another three and out. With Wilson forced from the game due to injury, Martinez returned the punt to the Seaford 20 yard line, setting up the Bucs with a golden opportunity to tally the first score of the game. Milford was able to work the ball to the 8 yard line, but missed a field goal to keep the game scoreless.
The defense continued to provide the offense with great field position, but the Bucs failed to take advantage of it. With the clock running down in the first half, Milford was able to set up shop at the Seaford 13 yard line, thanks to a blocked punt by Matt Viramontes. Milford wasted little time taking advantage of the field position, as sophomore Cole Davis hit sophomore Shawn Snowden with a nine yard strike for a touchdown. The missed extra point made it 6-0 with just 1:31 left in the first half.
Suddenly the Blue Jays sprung to life, after Milford had kicked the ball short, Seaford took the ball down to the Milford 8 yard line on a 37 yard run. Once again the Milford defense provided the lift the Buccaneers needed, keeping the Blue Jays out of the end zone and preserving the 6-0 halftime lead.
In the third quarter the Bucs defense took matters into their own hands as Viramontes had his second of three blocked kicks on the night. The ball rolled back and hit the pylon, giving Milford a safety and an 8-0 lead. “After the first time we blocked a kick, I knew that we could get to them gain,” Viramontes stated. “We had good pressure on their kicks all night long.” Martinez returned the ensuing free-kick to the Seaford 35 yard line. The Bucs wasted little time extending their lead to 14-0 on a 21 yard run by senior Vance Daniels with 7:31 left in the third quarter.
The game took on a somber tone however, as Seaford’s Elijah Holbrook was injured near the end of the third quarter. The injury required Holbrook to be removed from the game via ambulance. “Our prayers are with the injured player,” coach Tkach stated. “When something like that happens, you stop being a football coach and just worry about the young man.” Holbrook was treated and released from Milford Hospital around midnight Friday.
The game changed dramatically in the fourth quarter, as Seaford showed they would not go away quietly. Seaford completed a 31 yard touchdown pass to sophomore Kadeem Hughes. The blocked extra point put the Milford advantage at 14-6 with 11:51 left in the game.
With both Daniels and Wilson forced from the game for Milford, the running duties fell upon the emerging Martinez. Milford had little success however and a rejuvenated Seaford team went to the air for the rest of the game. With 6:51 left in the game, Seaford went for it on 4th and goal but the pass was broken up by Raheem Fullman, another freshman in the game due to injury.
Milford was pinned deep in their own Territory, when Martinez came up big for the Bucs, turning in a 64 yard run that got the Bucs out of the shadow of their own end zone. While Milford could not advance past the Seaford 20 yard line, the fact that they had some breathing room proved huge.
Taking over with 2:16 left in the game, Seaford took advantage of some huge penalties by Milford and where knocking on the door deep inside Milford territory. On the games final play, Seaford was able to evade the Milford rush and take one last shot into the end zone. There once again Fullman, batting away the potential touchdown pass and securing the victory for Milford. “I knew I had to step up, I knew they where going to go for the touchdown and I was ready,” commented Fullman.
The win was another step in the maturation process for some exciting young players, something that Coach Tkach is pleased with “We have been battling injuries all season and we have been asking these younger guys to step up,” said Tkach. “These young players made big plays in big spots tonight, that bodes well for the future.” Milford will travel to Woodbridge next Friday night, game time is 7:30 pm.