By Kevin Eickman
Trying to move the ball against Division I Sussex Tech was difficult for Milford all evening as the Buccaneers offense struggled for much of the night. One thing that Milford had in the hole however, was senior David Bowman and the “Wildcat” package. As the game entered the final stanza, it was the perfect time for Milford to turn it up a notch; it was time for Milford to take control of the game. That is just what the Buccaneers and Bowman did.
“We could see that we were wearing them down, and it was just the perfect time to give them something else to think about,” Bowman stated.
Starting at their own 37 yard line, Milford began to make strides. Just a few yards at first, but as the drive continued they were ripping them off in chunks. Play after play you could see that Milford was beginning to impose their will on the Ravens. One of the key plays on the drive occurred on 3rd and 8, from the Tech 48 yard line, as Bowman ran to his right and was finally corralled 13 yards later at the Tech 35 yard line, with 9:53 remaining in the game. The drive gained more momentum as Milford lofted a pass down the right sideline, which drew an interference call allowing Milford to set up with a first and ten from Tech’s 15 yard line. While the drive stalled at the eight yard line, the stage was set for Milford to finally get on the board.
As Milford junior Jonathan Gaglione lined up to attempt the field goal with just 6:58 left in the game, the Buccaneers called a timeout just to make sure everyone was on the same page. While it was easy to wonder what would happen with Ganglione’s kick, there was some other action taking place on the Milford sideline. Buccanneer senior David Bowman was telling his teamates, “This is it, we’re gonna win this game, this is what happens when you dig deep.” Bowman was doing nothing more than demonstrating his belief in his teammates and his coaches, he was letting his teammates know that this is what happens when you work harder than the other guys. “I wasn’t even worried about the kick, I knew that [Gaglione] was going to make it.” Bowman said. “I just wanted to make sure the defense knew that it was going to be up to us to win the game.”
All night long, Milford tried to find a way to make a difference. With the Bucs having their backs pinned to the goal posts all night, the defense continually did the job. The Buccaneer offense moved the ball in spurts all evening, but they were not able to sustain their success. In a game where neither team able to put a point on the board, now was their chance. Gaglione calmly lined up and put the ball through the middle of the uprights.
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“I started to understand about halfway through the third quarter, it might come down to me having to make a kick,” Gaglione stated. “It’s all about the process, you don’t worry about the score or the consequences, you just go through your sequence and make the kick.”
The field goal was not the only contribution from Gaglione, he also performed well punting the ball too. Including a key 50 yard punt that was able to flip the field in the third quarter and give the Milford defense a much needed break. “I actually thought I missed it a bit, because it was kind of a line drive,” Gaglione said. “But once I saw it take off, I could see it was really moving and our coverage guy made a great tackle.”
Speaking with Milford coach Shaun Strickland, he seemed very happy with how Gaglione has progressed as a kicker “Jonathan Gaglione is one of the most talented kickers in the state. If he ever goes to a summer camp, he could probably go kick D-I somewhere,” Strickland stated.
The burden would now fall on the Bucs defense to hold and preserve the victory. The defense responded to the challenge and the unit that had kept them alive all night, forced a three and out, resulting in a Tech punt. Milford got the ball at their own 42 with 5:42 left, and proceeded to chew up the clock as they worked their way down the field with junior quarterback Tayone’ Matthews under center. Everything was going well and Milford appeared to have all but put the game away when disaster struck with a turnover with 1:33 left.
With Tech taking over on their own 34 yard line, it would be up to the Milford defense stop the Ravens one final time. Milford was eager to the task, surrendering just one first down, before freshman Marquis Gillis put away the game with an interception. It was fitting that a defense that had refused to give up all night, put the final nail in the Ravens coffin. “Our defense played really well, we are really stout up front and have lots of speed in the secondary,” Strickland said. “Even when we made some mistakes, we were able to overcome them thanks to their speed.”
While it had not been pretty or easy, it was a victory and something to build on. “We knew we were going to have to scratch and claw for every inch. The band was rocking, their fans were going nuts, we knew it was going to be a fight,” Strickland stated.
Next week Milford will be hosting Delaware Military Academy on Hall of Fame night. Milford handed DMA a 24-0 defeat last year. Kick off is set for 7:00 pm.
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