By Kevin Eickman
On a cold crisp November evening at Briggs stadium, the Milord Buccaneers renewed their annual grudge match with Lake Forest. While the stakes are always high in the contest, this year’s version had an extra element attached as Milford needed a win to entertain any chance of reaching the DIAA State Football Tournament.
From the start it looked as if Milford would run away with the game, as they were able to get on the scoreboard in rapid fashion. On the very first play from scrimmage, Lake Forest dropped back to pass. The Spartan quarterback rolled to his right and then threw back to the left side of the field. Buccaneers senior David Bowman knew exactly what was coming and eagerly gobbled up the interception. After collecting the ball at the Lake 32, Bowman was off to the races and Milford had a 7-0 lead after junior Jonathan Gaglione converted the extra point.
The guests continued their generosity on the next drive as they fumbled the ball away to Milford, deep in their own territory. The Buccaneers went to work quickly and Bowman collected his second of four touchdowns on the evening from eight yards out, as Milford extended their lead to 14-0 with just under three minutes gone in the game. It looked as if the route might be on.
On their next offensive drive however, Milford had some huge plays called back due to holding penalties, which included two touchdowns being called back. Forced to settle for a field goal attempt, the Spartans blocked the Gaglione offering, keeping the score at 14-0.
After failing to score, Milford let down just a bit, perhaps for the only time in the game. Lake Forest ran a play-action pass and connected for a 54 yard scoring strike with 2:36 remaining in the first quarter, the successful kick made it 14-7.
What transpired in the second quarter was less than inspirational football as both teams had difficulty advancing the ball. It looked as if the teams would enter the locker room with the score still 14-7, that was until Lake Forest made a very poor decision. On fourth and short at midfield, the Spartans decided to go for it, with just over a minute remaining. Lake came up short and the Buccaneers would take over on downs. It was a choice that turned the tide of the game.
On the very next play, Bowman took the ball 40 yards to the Lake 10 yard line. It looked as if Milford would easily punch it in, yet one unforeseen challenged awaited Milford. With about 40 seconds or so remaining in the half, about half the stadium lights went out, creating a rather dim view of the field. In the confusion, time ticked away and Milford had to regroup to regain their composure. Bowman punched it across with just four seconds remaining, giving Milford a 21-7 halftime advantage.
The Buccaneers put to rest any thought of a Lake Forest comeback with junior Rahshawn Price scampering 45 yards on the first possession of the half for a touchdown. It was a show of dominance by the Milford offensive line that continued for the rest of the game “The line was blocking great tonight, those holes were hug,” Price said. “When we play like that, nobody is going to stop us.”
Second half highlights included a 90 yard touchdown run by Bowman and a 68 yard touchdown run from senior Jordan Waters, who would be one of three Buccaneers to rush for over a hundred yards on the way to Milford’s 42-7 victory. All a credit to a running game that seems to be heating up at just the right time.
When the tournament seeds were announced, they showed Milford facing a familiar foe in Woodbridge. While the Buccaneers may have defeated Woodbridge earlier in the season, snapping an 18 game winning streak, expect the Blue Raiders to come in looking for revenge. Milford will need a solid week of practice to be competitive in the game.
“Like I have said all year, we have to come with the mindset that we can’t let anybody beat us,” Bowman stated. “We need to focus on our keys and come ready to play.”
Beyond being The Battle for the Bell, it was senior night as well. While the group of seniors may not be large in numbers, they have been huge in contributions to the squad. “We only had about three or four returning seniors [starters] on this year’s squad,” said head coach Strickland. “Those guys waited in the wings and they have been solid for us up front all year.”
Milford will host Woodbridge this Saturday night, with kick scheduled for 7pm.
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