With the clock running down in the fourth quarter and the Milford Buccaneers holding a commanding 35- 0 lead in their season opener at home, the players on the field may have changed for the Bucs, but not the attitude. A simple run up the middle from sophomore Greg Lockett took the ball from senior quarterback John Hudson and simply would not be stopped. Breaking several tackles from 35 yards out, Lockett would provide the exclamation point on a dominant coaching debut for head coach Jed Bell and his staff. The ensuing extra point by senior Neysen Legros, who was six-for-six on PATs would close out the game’s scoring and usher in a new era of Milford football.
With new offensive coordinator Quinn Abbott rolling out the Wing-T, the Milford offense was humming from the start. On the game’s first possession, the Bucs would drive the ball straight down the field, chewing up yards and clock with senior running back Charles Shorts taking it in from two yards out to log Milford’s first score of the season. It would be the first of two touchdowns on the evening for Shorts who was happy with how the evening went.
“It’s great to score touchdowns, but we got the win. It was a team win and that is what we are all about,” Shorts said. He would end up with 166 yards on just 10 carries for the night, which included an 83-yard touchdown run on Milford’s first play of the second half. “We have some guys that can carry the ball and they showed it tonight.” Bell continued. “This is the way we wanted to start the season, poised and competitive. We’re still in the process of getting things where we want them, we still have a lot of work to do.”
The other running back who was featured for Milford in the game, made his statement run early in the game. Following Milford’s opening drive, Mount moved the ball down the field efficiently, driving deep into Milford territory. It was there that the Buccaneers’ defense would stiffen and on a fourth down from the Buc five-yard line, stuffed the Green Knights to take over on downs. The Bucs would immediately punch it out to the 20 and on the following play senior DenNare Horsey would scamper 65 yards, before being tripped up at the Mount five-yard line.
“There was some great blocking on that play and the hole was there, so I hit it. From there I just took off, I had a lot of open space but just got caught right there at the end.” Horsey said. While he didn’t score on that play, Horsey who had 125 yards for two touchdowns on 13 carries would punch it in from five yards out as Milford extended its advantage to 14-0 with 11:52 remaining in the second quarter.
Milford would continue to control the run of play throughout the first half, with Horsey upping the Bucs’ advantage to 21-0 with an eight-yard touchdown run with just over three minutes remaining in the second quarter. The 21-0 advantage looked to be solid, if that would have been the end of the half, but Milford was not finished yet. After forcing a Green Knight three and turnover on the Buccaneer eight-yard line, Milford decided there were more points to be had in the first half.
Driving steadily, quickly and calmly down the field, Milford demonstrated there was more to its offense than the running game. Senior quarterback John Hudson orchestrated the drive, with key decisions in the option and connecting with senior Benjamin Gusciora on a 35-yard pass to move the Bucs into Mount territory. Milford would drive the ball down to the Mount 21-yard line, where a false start penalty moved them back to the 26 with just 16.1 seconds remaining. Out of a timeout, Hudson would connect with Legros in the back corner of the end zone to garner Milford’s’ fourth touchdown of the half. “Coming down like that to end the half really had us soaring, it really showed how versatile this offense can be. “When you take a look at how Hudson manipulated the defense and the great play by Negros all night on both sides of the ball, you can’t help but be pleased,” Bell stated.
Milford would open the second half on defense, forcing a three and out. Following a great punt by Mount, Milford would take over at its 17-yard line. On the very first play, it was Shorts’ turn to shine as he busted up the middle of the line and didn’t stop until he found paydirt. The 35-0 score would start the running clock, with the Green Knights never sniffing a score for the rest of the game “The blocking up front was great tonight, so we were able to move the ball well,” Horsey said. “This isn’t about one or two guys, it’s about a team and we were a team tonight.”
Speaking with Bell, he was pleased with how the game went. However, he understands that there are many more games ahead. “We played well tonight but there is a lot of room for improvement. The schedule only gets tougher from here.” he continued. “We have a lot of things to correct and that is not easy when you are putting in a new offense. The one thing you can’t hide is effort and that was what I loved the most about tonight’s game. If we can continue to play with that type of heart, we should be an improved team this season.”
This is a new-look staff for Milford as well, with many former players and coaches coming home to try and inject Buccaneer spirit. Milford will have a week off before it travels to a Saturday noon game at William Penn, Sept.16. “That will be a huge step up in class for us, so we will need everyone at their best if we want to compete. Tonight was just the first step in a journey in which we try and have a good season, I believe we have the people in place to get it done but we just have to execute,” Bell concluded.
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