De­fense digs in for un­beaten Millers

Com­plete ‘D’ per­for­mance, three in­ter­cep­tions key win

Baltimore Sun - - VARSITY - By Kather­ine Dunn kather­ine.dunn@balt­sun.com twit­ter.com/ kdunnsun

Mil­ford Mill’s foot­ball team has been known this sea­son for its ball-hawk­ing de­fen­sive backs and the Millers grabbed three more in­ter­cep­tions in Fri­day night’s Bal­ti­more County Di­vi­sion I show­down at Franklin.

For the No. 7 Millers, how­ever, a com­plete de­fen­sive ef­fort made the dif­fer­ence in the end as they de­feated the In­di­ans, 19-13 in over­time.

Tied at 13 af­ter reg­u­la­tion, each team had four downs to score from the 10-yard line in over­time. Jor­dan Mo­rant made the most of the Millers’ drive as they went first. The ju­nior run­ning back car­ried the ball twice, reach­ing the end zone on a 2-yard sprint.

Franklin’s Eli­jah Solomon, how­ever, blocked the Millers’ ex­tra-point at­tempt, giv­ing his team a great chance to win. The Millers’ de­fense had other ideas. Solomon gained seven yards on the first play of the drive, but the Millers stuffed the In­di­ans on two more rush­ing at­tempts and then used their hall­mark pass cov­er­age to up­set Franklin’s fi­nal play on third-and-goal from the 3-yard line. Jawuan Wer­rell bat­ted away quar­ter­back Ver­non Brown’s pass in­tended for Joshua Wil­son in the end zone.

Mil­ford Mill coach Reg­gie White cred­ited first-year de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Byron Jones with stick­ing to his plan for the fi­nal four plays and cited his en­tire de­fense.

“He be­lieved in it and (the play­ers) believe in him,” White said. “He preached D line, get your hands up. We talk about the Mil­ford Mill run­ning back Jor­dan Mo­rant lunges over Franklin’s Xavier Cok­ley (31) and Robert Gar­rett (40) to score an over­time touch­down for the Millers on Fri­day night. de­fen­sive backs be­ing hawks and they did a good job… I was very proud of them. They were re­silient. We had so many in­juries with Des­mond (Shell) go­ing down, ev­ery­body that was cramp­ing. It’s what we preach — next man up and fin­ish­ing the game and it came to fruition to­day.”

The Millers (7-0) take over sole pos­ses­sion of first place in Bal­ti­more County’s Di­vi­sion I at 4-0. The Millers, Class 3A state fi­nal­ists last sea­son, also hold onto first place in the 3A North re­gion over the In­di­ans (5-2, 3-1), whose other loss was to DeMatha.

Last year, the Millers ended a se­v­engame los­ing streak to the In­di­ans by scor­ing 20 fourth-quar­ter points to rally for a 26-21 vic­tory.

Fri­day’s game was ex­cit­ing in a dif­fer­ent way for team cap­tain Kevin Neal, a four-year starter at line­backer.

“This has been a ri­valry,” Neal said. “Last year, we beat them at home. I’d never beaten them here be­fore. We beat them at their house for the first time in my four years on var­sity. My first time go­ing to over­time since I’ve been at Mil­ford. It was a lot of pres­sure on my DBs, a whole lot of pres­sure on me be­ing the mid­dle line­backer and run­ning our dense. There was a whole lot of pres­sure ev­ery­where.”

The In­di­ans, who scored on first play from scrim­mage when Solomon ran 72 yards for a touch­down, were driv­ing when reg­u­la­tion ended. Xavier Cok­ley picked off a long Millers’ pass and theFranklin of­fense reached the 10-yard line with 4.1 sec­onds to go. Brown at­tempted a pass to the end zone but Kam­ren Turner picked it off.

“I just think we missed some op­por­tu­ni­ties,” Franklin coach An­thony Bur­gos said. “Our guys have to re­al­ize when there’s a play to be made, we have to take ad­van­tage of that. On that last drive, we squan­dered our op­por­tu­nity to score and it just hurt.”

Turner’s was the third in­ter­cep­tion of the game for the Millers, who have 21 this fall. Khalil Scott and Wer­rell had in­ter­cep­tions ear­lier in the game.

Millers quar­ter­back Ris­hon Holmes threw two touch­down passes to give the Millers a 13-6 lead at the half. Tyree Shep­pard caught the first for a 57-yard score and Mo­rant grabbed the sec­ond for a 10-yard touch­down.

The In­di­ans tied it with 4:20 left in the fourth quar­ter when Brown threw a 25-yard touch­down pass to Von Reames. That was just the third pass­ing touch­down the Millers have al­lowed this sea­son.

KARL MER­TON FERRON/BAL­TI­MORE SUN

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