By Kevin Eickman
It looked all too familiar at first. After the Polytech Panthers moved the ball efficiently to start the the game, the Milford Buccaneers were playing with their backs to the end zone. Then for every good play that occurred, a Milford miscue seemed to either negate it or follow it.
Then it happened, midway through the first quarter the Panthers once again drove deep into Milford territory. It looked as if Milford was destined to concede the first points of the game when the Buccaneers defense decided it was not going to take being pushed around anymore. On a second down play from the Milford 30 yard line, senior Tayone’ Matthews came off the right edge and put a big hit on Panthers senior quarterback Vincent Tascoine. The ball came loose and while Milford was unable to recover it, the net result was a 12 yard loss. From that moment on the Buccaneers looked like a different team.
On the offensive side of the ball, it took a little bit longer for the Buccaneers to find their rhythm. That side of the ball however would find a spark after Polytech muffed a punt that the Bucs eagerly gobbled up to flip field position at the Panthers 42 yard line. From there the Bucs started to impose their will on the visitors. It took the Buccaneers just six plays to travel the 42 yards and get their first score as Mathews took it in from seven yards out. While it looked like the play had been stuffed initially, the Milford offensive line kept pushing and Mathews kept his legs churning in what could best be described as a rugby scrum.
“Our offensive line had a lot to prove tonight, we really had a few tough first couple of games.” senior Ritchy Corvil said. “We wanted to come out and make a statement and I think we did that tonight.” Following the extra point by senior Jonathan Galione, Milford had their first lead of the season at 7-0 with 10:20 remaining in the second quarter.
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The Buccaneers never took their foot of the gas after that. The stout defense spent the rest of the evening living in the Panthers backfield. Whether it was pressuring Tascoine or stuffing the run, there was nothing Polytech could do to gain traction. At the heart of the Milford defense was the defensive front with pressure coming from everywhere. Make no mistake about it, the Milford front played like a cohesive unit all night.
“We really got after it tonight, all of us. We made up our minds we were going to get it done tonight,” junior Anthony Diaz commented. “Every single one of us did our job tonight, that’s what it takes for us to win.”
With the defense stifling the Panthers, the Milford offense began to gain in confidence in itself. With Matthews and freshman Shawn Saxon splitting time behind center, Milford drove deep into Poly territory on their next drive. Keyed by huge 37 yard from junior Rodney Robinson in a drive that would end in a missed Gaglione field goal attempt, it appeared that senior Rahshawn Price had scored from 19 yards out, only to have it negated by a holding penalty.
“We played with a lot of heart and intensity tonight which is what we want,” coach Shaun Strickland said. “However, while we made fewer mistakes we also have to clean them up. As well as we played tonight I believe we can be better, we are getting as long as the guys continue to put in the work I believe there is even better football that we can play.”
Milford earned two points on a safety with 4:53 left in the second quarter. Poly then added to their own misfortune as they attempted a squib kick that Milford recovered enabling the Buccaneers to set up shop deep in Poly territory. Milford wasted little time taking advantage of their good fortune as junior Jabriah Lake took it in from 29 yards out as the Buccaneers extend their lead to 16-0 with 2:42 left in the second quarter.
The Buccaneers defense ended the first half scoring as senior Tyron Mifflin picked off a Polytech pass and return it to the house. “I saw the play and knew that the slant was coming, I actually ripped the ball out of the receivers hands and then I saw nothing but open field in front of me,” said Mifflin. “It was something we had seen on film so I was really ready for it.” When Gaglione converted the extra point Milford led 23-0 as the teams headed to the locker rooms for intermission.
The carnage would continue in the second half as the Milford defense continued to dominate and the offense began to impose their will. Buccaneer junior Gaij Copes came up with an interception to stop Polytech’s initial drive of the second half allowing Milford to set up shop on the Poly 45 yard line. The Bucs offense continued to churn out yardage in the running game with senior Caleb Watson taking it in from three yards out with 6:59 remaining in the third quarter. Gaglione continued his PAT perfection for the evening as Milford extended their lead to 30-0.
Milford junior Rodney Robinson tallied the game’s final touchdown as the fourth quarter came to a close with the games final score of 37-0 was reached courtesy of the Gaglione PAT.
With the victory, Milford will head down to Seaford (1-2) with the same 1-2 record as last season. Strickland knows that in the Henlopen South nothing is to be taken for granted. “We take them one week at a time, we know that any team in the South is capable of beating you if you are not at the top of your game. We have to take this like we take every week, we have to work hard and be ready.”
The Seaford game will get underway at 7pm.
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