By Kevin Eickman
It had been five long years since Milford had won The Battle of the Bell and this year’s squad was not about to let this chance slip away. Speaking with Buccaneer senior lineman Greggory Clark prior to Friday’s game, it was quite clear they were intent on getting it back. “We saw them celebrate on our field last year and we have no doubt we are going to return the favor.” The Buccaneers did just that this past Friday, defeating Lake Forest 37-0 to cap a 9-1 regular season.
As the first half played out however, there had to be some doubt creeping into the minds of the Milford faithful. Throughout most of the first half, the Buccaneers looked disjointed on offense and suspect on defense. While Milford had difficulty moving the ball, Lake moved the ball well against the visiting Bucs. As the first quarter turned into the second, Milford found themselves with their backs to the wall as Lake went for it on fourth and goal from the five yard line. Senior Dominyc Hovington would knife through the line, snuffing out the running play in the backfield. “I kind of knew it was coming, we practiced all week for it so I was prepared,” Hovington stated.
Milford opened up the scoring with the only points of the first half as senior William Kimmel found junior Marcus Correa streaking down the left sideline. Correa gathered in the pass and took it to the house for an 87 yard touchdown completion. Emerging sophomore kicker Jonathan Gaglione converted the extra point to give Milford the 7-0 advantage with 7:11 remaining in the first half. It would be the most offense would produce in the first half.
On the defensive side of the ball, Milford found themselves threatened at times, but each time the Buccaneers were able to stiffen and come up with the big play when they needed it. Key for the Milford defense was the play of senior cornerback Chris Sampson who recorded three passes defensed and one interception for a pick six on the evening. “We practiced all week for it so I was prepared,” Sampson said.
Milford turned to the ground game in the second half and the results were almost instant. On the second drive of the half Milford went on a 43 yard march, culminating on a 14 yard touchdown run by junior David Bowman. The extra point would double the advantage.
Milford would force a fumble on Lake’s next possession and set up shop deep in Spartan territory. The opportunity looked to have passed however as Milford faced a fourth and 11 from the Lake 25 yard line. Kimmel connected with senior Brion Murray down the Lake right side for the touchdown pass and a 21-0 advantage. The route was on.
With their 9-1 record, Milford qualified for the State tournament for the first time since 2008. Garnering the fourth seed in the eight team tournament, Milford will host 9-1 Wilmington Friends this Saturday at 7:30. The game promises to be a challenging one and Strickland knows that the Quakers will come ready to play “They are a well coached and well disciplined team, there is no doubt that they are going to be ready to play,” Strickland stated. “They will be fired up and ready to go, [Friend’s Head Coach] Tatersall does a great job with that team. We need to come ready to play.”
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