By Kevin Eickman
What had once been a comfortable 20-3 lead melted away and the Milford Buccaneers were up against the ropes. Following the second touchdown of the evening from Seahawks’ sophomore Devon Green, the 20-17 lead looked tenuous at best. Milford enjoyed little success on offense in the second half but came up big when they had to.
Starting at their own 35 yard line following the ensuing kick off, the Milford offense needed to move the ball. The response was emphatic as the running combination of junior Marquis Gillis and senior Jabraih Luke, lead by the offensive line took control of the game. Running primarily up the middle and to their right, the Bucs moved the ball consistently for the first time of the second half. “Those two guys are just workhorses,” Milford coach Shaun Strickland stated. “They told me, just keep giving us the ball, we don’t want to come off the field.”
As the Buccaneers’ drive progressed it seemed as if they had completed their mission, until they suddenly faced a fourth and three with 2:46 remaining at the Seahawks 20 yard line. Milford called a timeout and dialed up a perfect play as Gillis ran to the left side and was sprung free for a six yard gain to get the first down. More importantly he keep the ball out of Delaware Military Academy’s hands.
“When we called the timeout, I could tell Gillis really wanted the ball,” Strickland said. “Both runners were great tonight but we felt the play to the outside was the way to go in that spot and it really worked out well for us.”
Milford wasted little time settling the issue as the offensive line continued to control the line of scrimmage. Having seen DMA come back against them in the closing seconds two years ago, Milford knew they wanted the touchdown. After the Bucs worked it to the two yard line, sophomore quarterback Shawn Saxon took it in from two yards out to extend their advantage to 26-17 with 1:54 left. “We weren’t happy with just running out the clock there. We wanted the touchdown and we knew that our offensive line could get the job done,” commented Saxon. “They are a really good team but they were not going to get two scores with the way our defense was playing tonight.”
Milford started the night on fire as they took the opening drive 75 yards primarily trough the ground as both Luke and Gillis shredded the defense of the Seahawks. Play after play Milford moved the ball against what has usually been a stout defensive front. Milford scored on a one yard keeper from Saxon to get on the board first.
Milford actually scored their second touchdown twice. On a third and long from their own 15 Luke took a screen pass the distance for an apparent Milford touchdown. A down field-blocking penalty negated some of the gain forcing Milford to setup at mid-field. It was just a matter of time however as Luke took it in from 50 yards out, with Gillis converting the two point attempt to expand Milford’s lead to 14-0 with 3:21 remaining in the first quarter.
DMA put up a fight in the second quarter, working the ball down to the Bucs one yard line. Milford’s defense stood tall however and held the Seahawks to a field goal, making the score 14-3 with 5:42 remaining in the first half. The Buccaneers responded with a 60 yard drive to close out the first half as Gillis took it in from 3 yards out with 1:21 left in the half. It was the same score the teams would take into the locker room.
As a tandem, Luke recorded 155 rushing yards while Gillis went for 119 on the ground. Speaking with Luke following the game, it was obvious that the win was the thing. “I don’t care whether it’s him or me, we just want to move the ball on offense and score points,” Luke commented. “He is always pulling for me and I’m always pulling for him. With an offensive line like ours, we are really confident that we can move the ball. That’s all that matters.”
Milford had a number of plays called back by penalties that may have made the game closer than it needed to be. It is an item Milford will address in the future. “We made some mistakes that we have to clean up. We are 2-0 but we have some real good teams to play in the future and we need to be smarter,” said Strickland. “At the end of the day however, we got a win against a real good team and that is what we need to take out of this.”
The 2-0 Milford will open conference play against Cape Henlopen at home this Friday, Kick-off is set for 7 pm.
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