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Football Squad Suffers Heartbreaking Opening Game Defeat

Posted on: August 27, 2016

If responding to adversity in a positive manner is what the 2016 Milford High School football team will be all about then this could be a season Eagles’ fans will be proud of. Despite the deck being stacked against a team that lost nearly 30 seniors from last years roster, key injuries on both side of the ball and a stoppage in play of over 12 hours because of lightning, the Eagles still nearly pulled out a Week 1 victory as they came up just short by a 17-14 score to Hamilton in a Skyline Chili Crosstown Showdown game that wrapped up early Saturday afternoon.


When action halted at the 2:15 mark of the second quarter on Friday evening with lightning all over the night sky, Milford trailed by a 14-7 score. After play resumed on Saturday morning the Eagles found themselves under the leadership of their third quarterback of the year as senior do-it-all man Chase Witte had replaced the injured Blake King. King made his first varsity start on Friday in place of the also injured Tyler Smith and accounted very well for himself before being forced to depart. Making his first ever varsity appearance under center, Witte nearly led the Eagles to a win, but a last second Hail Mary act by the Big Blue propelled the visitors to the win.


With under a minute to play, Hamilton forced a Milford punt and took over at its own 22-yard line with just 39 ticks to go. After collecting one first down and then tossing two incompletions, Hamilton quarterback Eric Jackson unloaded a 59-yard bomb to big play wideout Vince Sanford that set up Trace Sword’s game-winning 22-yard field goal with just five seconds remaining.


"Honestly, we're down about six or seven starters right now," Milford coach Shane Elkin told Community Press reporter Nick Robbe following the game. "I'm excited though. Our kids played great. There have been years where Milford teams have been one or two guys down and the team folded. We had our best week of practice, we improved and we had guys play positions they've never played. I was putting linebackers on the defensive line and moving offensive linemen to the other side. These guys are flying around and getting excited. When we get these guys back, we're going to be a team to be reckoned with."


The first two possessions of the game showed signs of an offensive shootout as both squads found paydirt. Hamilton took the opening kickoff and moved right down the field, capping a six-play, 65-yard drive with a Jackson to Sanford eight-yard strike. Behind the legs and arm of King, the Eagles answered as the junior led a 76-yard scoring drive with a nine-yard scamper for a score.


Midway through the second quarter, Jackson mimicked King’s act running and passing his squad down the field, going the final five yards himself for the score that put the visitors up 14-7. Shortly after, lightning set up forcing the postponement of the game to Saturday morning.


When action resumed and with Witte at the controls of the Milford offense, the Eagles tied the score with an impressive 10-play, 80-yard scoring drive that chewed 5:27 off the clock to start the third quarter. Big plays on the drive included a 19-yard Witte to Robbie McQueary catch and run, an 11-yard rush by the latter and a 23-yard scamper by Connor Elliot. The drive culminated with a seven-yard strike to Max Brewer by Witte.


The final stats showed Hamilton with a 368-211 advantage in total offense despite the slim victory margin. Penalties (eight for 91 yards prior to the stoppage) haunted HHS early, but the visitors committed just one infraction when the game improved. Sanford was the big performer of the game for Hamilton and was rewarded with the Mercy Health Player of the Game award. The big wideout hauled in 11 passes for 182 yards and a touchdown. Jackson had a nice game at quarterback, completing 15 of 29 passes for 210 yards and adding 69 yards and a score on offense.


Witte would be chosen Milford’s Player of the Game, after accounting for 71 passing yards, 35 yards rushing, 49 yards in kick returns, punting four times for a 43 yard average and making five tackles with one pass breakup on defense. Despite playing just one half, King led the Eagles’ ground game with 57 yards. Evan Baugh led the Eagles’ D with 12 tackles, while Bryce Dugan had a huge game, collecting 10 tackles, including half a sack, forcing a fumble and batting down a pass.


The Eagles will look to crack into win column for the first time this year next Friday when they travel across the river to take on Northern Kentucky’s Dixie Heights High. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.