By Kevin Eickman
This past Friday evening the Milford Buccaneers traveled down to Sussex Tech on an evening just made for football. The only problem for Milford was their failure to capitalize on opportunity and commit penalties in key moments.
“We simply can’t continue to play the way we played tonight,” Coach Shaun Strickland said. “We had our chances to make defensive stops and also to score more points. But when you don’t execute in key moments, you can find yourself on the wrong end of the scoreboard more times than not.”
The game started ominously as the Ravens took over at their own 35 yard line and proceeded to march the ball right down the field. With a solid ground game Milford looked helpless to stop them. The drive culminated on with a one-yard touchdown run by Ravens senior Kevin Custis, who would have four touchdowns on the evening.
“Custis was very good out there tonight, every time they needed a big play he showed up,” Strickland stated.
Once again the Tech ground game flexed its muscle as Custis scored from two yards out to double their advantage. The drive was aided by a key Milford penalty which kept with the spirit of the game. “We have to clean it up, we can’t be giving away free first downs and expect to win football games,” said Strickland. With the extra point the Ravens extended their lead to 14-0 midway through the first quarter.
Milford finally responded as they got the offense moving in the right direction as the ground game finally found their feet. With senior Jabraih Luke and junior Marquis Gillis pounding the rock, the Buccaneers scored as the second quarter got underway. With the two point conversion not converted, Milford trailed 14-6.
Tech started with great field position following the kick-off, setting up shop at mid-field. Once again the potent Raven running game was on display as this time Tech’s Connor Ellingsworth took it in from six yards out, extending the Raven lead to 21-6 halfway through the second quarter. That was the lead they would carry into the locker room.
Milford’s misfortune continued on the opening drive of the second half, where mistakes once again kept the offense stagnant. Unable to move the ball, Milford was forced to punt the ball back over to their foes.
Finally fortune seemed to fall in Milford’s favor as they recovered a fumble on the Ravens 26 yard line with 9:00 minutes remaining in the third quarter. The Bucs were unable to take advantage however as four consecutive plays yielded zero yards, turning the ball back over to Tech.
Adding insult to injury for Milford was injuries to key personnel including Luke and senior defensive lineman Anthony Diaz. “It hurts when you lose two guys like that and we have the limited number of players we do. Luckily we have a guy like Aaron Sivels [sophomore] to come in and contribute like he did,” stated Strickland.
With the Milford defense continuing to struggle, Custis capped another long offensive drive to put the Ravens up 28-6, early in the fourth quarter.
The Buccaneers responded with a drive of their own as Gillis took it in from 18 yards out and also took in the two point conversion, to halve the Raven lead to 28-14 with 8:20 remaining in the game. This gave Milford a glimmer of hope. That hope was short lived as Tech added a pair of touchdowns to close out the scoring as Milford fell to 2-2 (0-2) on the season. Along the way, Strickland received an ejection for arguing with the officials. Strickland declined to comment on the incident.
It does not get any easier for Milford as they host Dover this Friday, who will feature their all everything running back Javon Peace. Strickland commented, “Dover is an extremely talented team and Peace reminds me a lot of David Bowman, you do everything you can to stop him but he is so good there is very little you can do about it. You know what’s coming but you just can’t stop it. It’s going to be a huge challenge against Dover.”
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