By Kevin Eickman
On the game’s first offensive play Friday night, Milford was caught with its pants down. On a simple off-tackle play, Ravens senior running back Zion Roach took the ball and ran left. The Buccaneers did not seal the edge and Roach was off to the races. Just like that with 19 seconds off the clock, Milford was facing a 7-0 deficit. With the exception of the music coming from the Ravens Nation band, Briggs Stadium was quiet. The Bucs coaches and players were silent as well. Speaking with Milford coach Jed Bell after the game, he stated that Milford just needed to put the play behind them. “We got caught inside and a very good player got free with the football. There was nothing we could do about it but correct the mistake and move on,” he said.
Move on would be exactly what Milford would do on the ensuing drive. Starting from inside its 30, the Bucs would methodically move the ball down the field. The offense was moving the ball well, when disaster almost struck. Just inside Tech’s 10, Milford fumbled the ball and Tech scooped it up and started heading in the other direction. However, Milford would force a fumble on the return giving it a fresh set of downs on the Ravens’ 9.
Milford would take advantage of the gift as it continued its strong running attack, led by senior DenNare Horsey who would take it in from six yards out. After a roughing the kicker penalty on the PAT attempt, the Buccaneers would convert a two-point conversion and take an 8-7 advantage.
In a first quarter that flew by, Tech would work the ball into Milford territory before the Buccaneers defense would stiffen. The Buccaneers would take over at their 18 as the second quarter began. Milford would gain little yardage as the Tech defense forced a three and out. Once again, the Ravens would work it deep into Buccaneers territory, it would be a crucial turnover on downs that allowed Milford to take over on its 8. With miscues and mistakes, Milford suffered another three and out.
The Milford defense would once again stand tall and following a missed Tech field goal attempt, the Milford offense finally found its footing. Driving down the field, Horsey would take it in from 28 yards out for the second of his three touchdowns on the night. A two-point conversion would make it 16-6 with 2:18 to go in the first half. “I knew it was just a matter of time before our offensive line would get it going. When they are on their game, we can really take control and that is just what we did,” Horsey said.
Milford would have another chance after an interception by senior Jayden Norman set up the Buccaneers at its 40 and just under two minutes remaining. Milford rapidly moved the ball down the field but turned the ball over on a fumble, as the teams would enter the locker rooms with Milford holding the 16-6 advantage.
Starting the second half, on Milford’s first play from the line of scrimmage, the Buccaneers would return the favor of the game’s opening play as senior Charles Shorts ran through a huge hole up the middle for a 62-yard touchdown run to start the second half. A successful two-point conversion would extend the Bucs lead to 24-7. “I saw the hole and hit it, I just had to make one move and I knew I was gone. It was a great way to start the second half after we lost a big chance at the end of the first,” Shorts said.
Tech would be generous to Milford on the following drive, turning the ball over at its 29. The Bucs didn’t hesitate as senior quarterback Jack Hudson would connect on a 29-yard pass to junior Jamarie Thomas. Thomas, who was wide open on the play, explained what happened. “The defender had inside leverage and I just put a little move on him and made sure I caught the ball. You practice it and when it comes the way you planned, it is a really great feeling.”
With the 24-7 lead, Milford would go on autopilot to close out the game. While the 42-13 final score was impressive, the number of gaffs and blown coverages that Milford got away with must be corrected. As the Bucs (6-2) now chase a tournament spot, they simply can’t continue to record errors with top division opponents in Delmar and Lake Forest coming up. “Getting a win was big but there are so many things we have to correct. We are heading down to Delmar this week and they will roast us if we make the mistakes we made today. But as I have said before we are learning. We are going to play against a solid team in Delmar and we better be ready,” Bell concluded.
Friday night’s clash is set for a 7 p.m. kickoff.
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