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Eagles Turn It On In Second Half, Rout Fairfield In Football Playoffs Opener

Posted on: October 27, 2023

Behind a season-high 326 yards rushing, Milford overcame a slow first half to turn its OHSAA Playoffs opener into a runaway as the top-seeded Eagles routed Fairfield 41-15. With the win, the Eagles will move on to the next round of the playoffs where they’ll host No. 9 seed Mason next Friday night.

The game had the makings of a defensive standstill as the Eagles led just 7-0 at the half. But behind 215 rushing yards by Nathan Webster and another 104 from Ashton Warther, the Eagles put up 34 second half points to overwhelm the visiting Indians. The Eagles also got it done through the air as QB Caden Bailey connected on 14 of 19 passes for 155 yards and a touchdown. Webster and Warther got into the act in the passing game as well as the duo finished with 56 and 25 yards, respectively on top of their rushing exploits.

The Eagle D did its part, keeping Fairfield dual threat QB Talon Fisher in check for most of the night. Fisher, who averaged nearly 130 yards on the ground per game during the regular season, was held to just 88 on 20 carries. The performance by Milford’s secondary was stellar also as Fisher completed just 9 of 26 passes for 123 yards with a pair of interceptions.

After Milford’s opening drive of the night stalled out on downs, Fairfield took the ball and marched inside the Eagle 10-yard line with a 13-play, 59-yard drive. After Tim Dick broke up a Fisher pass on third down from the Eagle six, it appeared the Indians would settle for a short field goal. But the visitors had other ideas as they attempted a fake field goal. However, Fisher’s pass to Tyon Spiller fell incomplete in the end zone.

Fast forward to the early stages of the second quarter and Carter Ings intercepted Fisher near midfield to put the Eagles in business. Five plays later, Webster was celebrating his first touchdown of the night and 18th of the season after a three-yard run.

After forcing a punt on Fairfield’s ensuing drive, the Eagles were on the move into the redzone before a wild play gave the Indians new life. Webster fumbled at the Fairfield 15, with the ball scooped up by the speedy Gabe Ross of Fairfield. He blazed down the center of the field, but an alert hustle play by Bailey saw the second fumble of the play near midfield. After the ball bounded over 20 yards down field, the Indians finally recovered at the Milford 27. It went for not however, as the Eagles forced another turnover on downs.

Webster did the lion’s share of the work on Milford’s first drive of the second half culminating with an 11-yard run that put the home team up 14-0. Webster keyed the next drive as well, laying out for a spectacular 40-yard reception on third down that ultimately paved the way for another stellar catch, this time by Ethan Melgard on a 14-yard TD from Bailey.

A 61-yard return on the ensuing kickoff gave Fairfield strong field position and they capitalized as Fisher found a streaking Juseters Fataki for a 33-yard TD. Webster wasted no time when Milford got the ball back, racing 64 yards down the left sideline to put the Eagles in prime scoring territory again. This time Warther carried the final 11 yards to put Milford up 28-7.

Wather produced the next big play for Milford early in the fourth quarter as he cut and sped his way 69 yards for his second rushing score of the night to make it 35-7. To Fairfield’s credit, they continued to battle, clawing with 35-15 on a Fisher TD run and a two-point conversion run by Derion Prophett.

Milford wrapped things up with 2:30 to play when Tofa Luani spelled Webster and blasted in from five yards out to put the game on ice. J.P. Naylor slammed the door shut when he snagged an interception on Fairfield’s final drive.

The night was full of big accomplishments, particularly in the offensive ground attack. The 326 yards gained by the Eagles were the most since a 456-yard explosion against Loveland two years ago. That night was also the last time before tonight that two Milford runners went over 100 yards in the same game. That night the honors belonged to Natwan Webster and Tofa Luani. Finally, Webster becomes the first Milford back to crack 200 yards since Cameron Kells went for 206 against Kings in 2018.

Webster also vaulted himself all the way up to second on Milford’s single season rushing yards list as he sits at 1,231. Kells is the all-time leader with 1,607.

As mentioned, Eagles will get their first crack at Mason since 1998 next week. The Comets shutout ECC foe Lebanon by a 17-0 count to earn a shot at the Eagles.

Click here for final game stats.

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