By Kevin Eickman
Play after play, they just kept coming. Traveling up to Abessinio Stadium in Wilmington for yet another noon kickoff, Milford was wide awake for its battle against the St. Elizabeth Vikings. In their previous two trips north, the Buccaneers had come out flat and uninspired. This game, however, would start completely differently. Taking the opening kickoff on its 30-yard line Milford would sharply march down the field and while it failed to score the tone was set, Milford made it clear that it were going to have a huge day on the ground.
Forcing a three and out, Milford would be able to set up shop at the Vikings 39. It would take exactly one play for Milford to find the end zone, as senior Charles Shorts would take a sweep around the outside and score the game’s first touchdown. Although the extra point was blocked, it was clear that there would be no looking back for the Bucs. “Coming out alert and ready today was very important today. There is no doubt these 7 am wake-up calls have been a bit taxing on us,” Milford coach Jed Bell said. “It takes a lot to get ready for these early starts, but we were ready today.”
On the ensuing St. Elizabeth possession, the defense would step up. With the Vikings once again in the shadow of its end zone, Buccaneer senior Neysen Legros would step in front of a freshman Cole Andrews pass, returning it 30 yards as the Bucs would double their advantage to 12-0 following a failed two-point conversion attempt.
While the Milford defense was impressive stopping the run, they showed some vulnerability in the passing game while on defense. While St. Elizabeth may have been forced into a one-dimensional offense, it would be Cole Andrews who would keep the Vikings in the game, especially in the first half. Andrews repeatedly scorched the Milford secondary, connecting with senior Gavin Andrews repeatedly. The combination would tally two 30-yard touchdowns in the first half, connecting on a number of other big plays as well. “We knew they were trying to get the ball to number six (Gavin Andrews), but just couldn’t stop that connection. While I haven’t looked at the tape yet, I know there is a lot to be fixed in the secondary. Our offense was running the ball so well today it didn’t hurt us, but we won’t get away with that going forward,” Bell said.
Milford would take a 34-16 lead into the locker room thanks to a two-minute drill starting at the Viking 40, senior quarterback John Hudson ran the offense to perfection. The drive would be capped off by a six-yard touchdown run by senior DenNare Horsey and a successful two-point conversion by Hudson.
In the second half, Milford continued to chew up yardage and score touchdowns. With Shorts recording his second score, senior Greg Lockett and senior Elijah Lake all scored rushing touchdowns. Milford’s only passing touchdown of the game would be early in the fourth quarter as Hudson would connect with senior Wilderson Alexandre to cap off the scoring.
Perhaps the most celebrated score for Milford would be that of Lake. Seeing his first action of the season after coming back from injury, the moment was special for him. “I would be lying if I said it was just another touchdown. It has been a long way back for me and to be able to play today meant a great deal to me. To score, that was icing on the cake,” Lake said.
With the Milford rushing game going for more than 300 yards on the day, it would not be fair to overlook the work of the Bucs offensive line. We had the opportunity to speak with senior center George Hufnagel on the state of the unit as they continue to improve in a new offensive system. “Everyone has their job to do and we really did our work today. It takes all of us acting as one unit to make days like today happen. We are getting better, but we still have a lot of room for improvement,” he said.
With the win, Milford moves to 4-1 with their conference schedule set to begin Thursday night at Woodbridge, this is uncharted territory for Bell. “I have never went from a Saturday afternoon game to a Thursday night game before, so we are going to have a very different week this week. We will practice differently and make sure we are healthy, but I have a lot of faith in these guys and think they will be ready Thursday,” he said.
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