By Kevin Eickman
As they took a knee to hear the post game words from their head coach Shaun Strickland, the look of pain was etched on all the Buccaneer players. “It stings, it’s supposed to sting,” Strickland said. “When you let a game go like we just did, you need to remember this feeling so it never happens to you again.”
It appeared that Milford dodged a bullet on Hall of Fame Night, as junior Jonathan Gaglione split the uprights with just 29 seconds remaining in the game, giving Milford their first lead of the night 23-21. Milford chased points all night, thanks to the play of Delaware Military Academy junior, Corahn Alleyne. The Seahawks was a one man wrecking crew in the first half, producing three touchdowns, two on kick-off returns and one on an 85 yard interception return. While it may have appeared that Milford would survive, DMA and Alleyne had other ideas.
With the thought of those two kick returns deeply implanted in the minds of the Milford coaching staff, there was little debate that they would not kick the ball deep into Alleyne’s hands. DMA recovered the squib kick on their own 35 yard line, facing a Milford defense that looked stout all game long. Milford caused an incomplete pass with 13.3 seconds left, when a late pass interference flag suddenly came flying in. The fifteen yards, handed the ball to the Seahawks at the 50 yard line.
On the following play, disaster struck. Milford generated a solid pass rush up the middle, forcing DMA quarterback Amadteus Fitzgerald to release the ball a bit earlier than he wanted to. As the ball hung in the air, a Milford defender appeared to settle under it and another was closing in. There was another player closing in on the ball as well however, it was Alleyne. The ball was tipped up and Alleyne came down with it, getting tackled at the Milford three yard line. Using their last timeout, DMA’s Matthew Drejza lined up and converted the 25 yard field goal as time expired.
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The final score gave little indication as to how much Milford outplayed DMA in the trenches all game. The Buccaneers offense moved the ball all night against the visitors, while the defense did not even allow a first down until midway through the second quarter. Now matter how well Milford moved the ball however, they always seemed to shoot themselves in the foot.
Milford was especially vulnerable on special teams. Besides the two kickoff return touchdowns that they allowed, Milford also had two extra point attempts blocked as DMA rushed straight up the middle. Even with the two blocked extra points, Milford still felt the play was to have Gaglione attempt the field goal late in the game. “We called a timeout before the kick and we made sure we had our protection set correctly,” Strickland stated. “We have to be able to kick the ball to win and we were very confident on that play.”
Games like this can linger and Milford will have to come back focused and ready to work, if they hope to shake this loss off . Traveling up to Polytech next Friday at 7pm, Strickland knows that going up against a D-1 team can be a challenge. “Polytech has a very talented quarterback who does a lot of really good things with the ball,” said Strickland. “We know we have to come out focused and ready to play, because they are a good football team.”
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