By DAVE McCALLUM
Milford was clicking on all cylinders a week ago blasting Sussex Tech 46-35 in its Homecoming game, and Buccaneer head coach Shawn Strickland knew a similar effort would be required on Friday against unbeaten powerhouse Caravel Academy Friday night at Briggs Stadium.
The homestanding Buccaneers were no match for their counterparts as they dropped a 42-0 decision in their penultimate contest of the season.
“Caravel is a very good football team, and we knew had to play a good game and limit mistakes. We just didn’t do that on both sides of the ball,” Strickland said. “We knew going in (against Caravel) that they were going to be tough. We had to limit the mistakes and we didn’t.”
Milford was solid defensively on the game’s opening drive, shutting down the visiting Buccaneers and forcing a punt, but MHS went three-and-out on its opening offensive possession. Caravel (9-0) would then get its offense in gear going 92 yards in 12 plays with fullback Brook Rhoades going in from two yards out with 2:07 left in the opening quarter for the first of his two touchdowns, and the point-after (PAT) made it a 7-0 game.
Another three-and-out from Milford which only took two minutes off the clock set the stage for another Caravel scoring drive – this time it took only four plays for the visitors to go 60 yards with Rhoades scoring from 10 yards out. After the PAT, MHS found itself down 14-0 with 10:16 left in the opening half.
“Opportunities were there. We’d get them in second, and third and long and they made big plays,” Strickland said. “We had things we were able to do and take away. They were well scouted, but there were too many mistakes. You can’t have them a third-and-11, and they get 12 yards for a first (down).”
Milford’s offense was still unable to get untracked on its next possession gaining only six yards in three plays. Caravel scored its final touchdown of the first half on a six-play, 60-yard march culminated by a Craig Miller seven-yard TD run. The drive could have been different if not for a controversial pass interference call on a MHS interception.
“On offense, some bad balls were thrown, and we had trouble finding good running lanes early on which we were able to do later,” said Strickland, whose offense managed only 33 yards of total offense in the opening half.
Milford’s offense started better on the second half’s opening drive with running back Elijah Lake picking up 17 yards on the first three plays, but a holding penalty put the Bucs behind the sticks and forced another punt.
MHS’s Desmond Aladuge boomed a 40-yard plus pinning Caravel back at 15, but the visiting Buccaneers put a dagger in any Milford comeback hopes on its second play as quarterback Truman Awuwerda found wide receiver Vandrick Hamlin III on a 76-yard touchdown pass and Caravel led 28-0 after the successful PAT.
“When we were locked in and doing what we needed to do, we were making plays on both sides of the ball – getting chunk yardage on offense,” Strickland said. “And defensively, we were getting them in third and long, and forcing them to do things they’re not used to. That counter was a big play for them, but they never hit it once against us.
“We would get drives and then we shoot ourselves in the foot; penalties, missed blocks and started going backwards. We hadn’t had that happen the last couple of weeks. We had that happen this week and you can’t have that happen against Caravel.”
Caravel would score another touchdown in the third quarter and one in the fourth quarter to finish off the 42-0 victory.
Milford did manage to move inside the Caravel 30 on its next drive on successive 24- and 16-yard runs from Lake and DenNare Horsey, but the drive broke down following two runs for losses and a pair of incomplete passes from quarterback John Hudson.
Milford (3-6) closes out its season Thursday night on Senior Night at Briggs Stadium against Mount Pleasant. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
“We have to go back and see where those errors were and see how those can be fixed. We got to clean up the mistakes and get some energy and momentum back and go out and play our brand of football. Like Sussex Tech (a 46-35 win two weeks ago), since the opening week of the season where you saw four quarters where our guys were locked in – not many penalties, not many mistakes – and you look at the outcome (three wins).
“We’ve got a lot of young guys only two are four-year guys, so we’re very young and experience-wise it’s not a very deep team this year with experience. A lot of these guys are juniors (19), and this is the first time they’ve been on the field at this level. With having COVID, no jayvee team and being riddled with injuries all season we’ve hit a few bumps and we’ve got to overcome it.”
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