By Kevin Eickman
As first year Milford coach Shaun Strickland addressed his team following their loss to visiting Woodbridge, he urged them to remember the feeling. “When you let one get away like we did tonight, it really is painful, you need to learn from it,” coach Shaun Strickland stated. All night long the Buccaneers had struggled to move the ball and had eventually paid a price for it. While the defense had played valiantly, it was simply too much for them to hold out one last time.
Leading 14-7 late in the fourth quarter, the Milford offense found themselves in the shadow of their own end zone. The Woodbridge defense had their ears pinned back and they were looking for a safety. That would be exactly what the Blue Raiders would get as they tackled junior quarterback William Kimmel for the two points, but more importantly to they got the football back as well.
Starting at the Milford 41 yard line, with just over four minutes left, Woodbridge tried to put together the drive they needed; one that would give them the lead and with it the probable victory. Woodbridge would convert a key fourth down to keep the drive alive, eventually working their way to the Milford 22. It was there that Woodbridge ran a little inside dive play, that busted wide open. Senior Kirby Williams would take it the distance, giving Woodbridge the lead for good.
“Our defense was incredible all night, it was a shame to lose the game like that,” Strickland said. “Our offense really didn’t have a good night tonight and it was eventually our undoing.”
There was little indication that the Milford offense would have their most difficult night of the season. After stopping Woodbridge on the games opening drive, the Buccaneer offense got off to a fast start. Driving 74 yards right down the field, with Kimmel connecting twice with junior wide receiver Brion Murray on two big pass plays. The drive was capped on a four yard touchdown run by David Bowman, giving Milford a 6-0 lead following a missed extra point.
From there the defenses of both teams took over, with Woodbridge holding a big advantage in the kicking game they were able to win the battle for field position all game long. Field position would be a key factor in the first Woodbridge touchdown as their defense forced a fumble from sophomore quarterback Marcus Corea,recovering at the Milford 21 yard line. Woodbridge would need just one play to cover the distance, giving them a 7-6 lead with the first quarter coming to a close.
As the defensive struggle continued into the second half, it looked as if Milford might never score again. Having a hard time moving the ball on the ground, the Buccaneers were forced to throw the ball more than they would have liked but with the Blue Raiders crowding the box all night, there was little choice in the matter. The offensive highlight of the game came for Milford when Kimmel hit Murray in stride on a 38 yard scoring strike, the two point conversion would give Milford the 14-7 lead that they would fail to protect with just under five minutes remaining in the third quarter.
With the loss Milford 5-3 (2-2) now finds themselves in a precarious situation with regards to a possible playoff birth. They will need to win out to possibly gain a tourney spot, with a key road test at Delmar this Friday, before hosting Lake Forest to close out the season. Speaking with Strickland following the game, he knows the task will be tough. “Going down to Delmar is going to be a difficult task, that is a very good football team down there,” said Strickland. “We have to get back to work on Monday and we have to fix the mistakes we made tonight, it’s something we have to do if we expect to be able to win.”