No. 7 Milford Mill overcome penalties, New Town in football opener; Holmes passes for 2 TDs

Milford Mill quarterback Rishon Holmes sheds a New Town defender while Titans defensive end Riaheem Olokekan (17) pursues during the first quarter of Friday’s Baltimore County football contest. Holmes threw for two touchdowns as the No. 7 Millers held off the 19th-ranked Titans in front of a huge audience on Washington Avenue.

by Derek Toney

After his team’s victory over New Town Friday evening, Milford Mill Academy football coach Reggie White congratulated his team.

Then came reality.

“What we got to clean up? Everything,” White said.

The No. 7 Millers’ 14-12 decision over the 19th-ranked Titans in front of an overflow audience in was far from a masterpiece. But, there’s another reality.

A win is a win.

“Any win is a good win, and it’s better to be 1-0 than 0-1,” said White.

Junior quarterback Rishon Holmes threw two touchdown passes for Milford Mill (1-0 overall), which gained an early advantage in the new Baltimore County 2A Division (1-0). The Millers’ defense came up with a couple of big denials in the fourth quarter.

It compensated, albeit barely, for a mistake-filled opening debut for the Washington Avenue school, considered a Class 2A state championship contender. The Millers were flagged 17 times for 180 yards Friday evening.

They finished with 182 yards of offense.

“We need to go back and practice harder, focus more,” said Milford Mill senior defensive end Makai Booker. “We know we’re better than that.”

The Millers’ defense swallowed up New Town’s 2-point conversion attempt midway in the fourth, keeping the hosts in front. The Titans had possession with 8.2 seconds left in regulation, but Milford Mill junior defensive end Nathan Brown dropped New Town quarterback Brian Williams to end it.

Milford Mill recorded eight sacks Friday as Booker (6-foot-4, 200 pounds) had a hat trick, and Baltimore Touchdown Club Super 22 linebacker Jordan Morant added two. But the Millers’ defense were flagged four times for 60 yards, including a pass interference and unsportsmanlike penalty that aided New Town’s second score.

“We got to be more disciplined,” said White. “We call penalties ‘Miller Killers,’ we’re killing ourselves. We got to clean it up.”

Milford Mill, which had at least one penalty in eight possessions Friday, got its first touchdown of 2019 as Holmes hit Khalil Scott inside the pylon for a 5-yard touchdown with 9 minutes, 48 seconds remaining in the second. The drive was buoyed by a New Town facemask penalty while bringing down Holmes after a 15-yard run on 3rd down-and-29.

The Millers returned the favor on the ensuing drive, drawing a personal foul penalty on 3rd-and-18. Zavion Woodard capped the drive with a 6-yard scoring run, bringing New Town to 7-6 with 3:42 left before halftime.

Holmes, an elusive 6-foot dual threat signal caller, led Milford Mill to the end zone on its first possession of the second half. He accounted for 37 yards, avoiding a New Town defender and tossing a 7-yard strike to Tyree Sheppard, extending the Millers’ lead to 14-6 late in third quarter.

White wants the dynamic Holmes to be more patient.

“He is electrifying, but sometimes, he thinks he’s too electrifying.” said White. “We need him to hold the ball a little bit longer. He’s going to make plays for us, no question.”

Brandon Williams answered for New Town, hitting with Chris Maddox with a tight pass down the middle from 21 yards out with 7:39 left in regulation, bringing the Owings Mills squad to 14-12. The Titans went for the 2-point conversion, but Woodard was bottled up by Milford Mill’s defense.

New Town (0-1, 0-1 County 2A), which reached the 2A state semifinals last year, was equally sloppy Friday with 12 penalties for 104 yards, including two roughing the passer flags that aided Milford Mill’s second touchdown drive. Williams (8-of-12, 73 yards in the second half), a junior quarterback, finished 13 for 18 for 104 yards.

Titans coach Mike Savage, whose son Brandon helped Milford Mill to the Class 3A final in 2017, knew his squad needed to play a perfect game against the perennial Baltimore County power.

“A whole lot of mistakes. We missed an extra point. If we executed, we’re in overtime,” said Savage in his second season at New Town. “We got to do a better job running the ball.”

Makai Booker (left), Khalil Scott and Jordan Morant brought the defense last night for Milford Mill Academy. The seventh-ranked Millers defeated No. 19 New Town in a Baltimore County football season opening contest.

White commended the efforts of Booker, Scott, Morant, Kobe Roberts and Demetrius Price in Milford Mill’s defensive front seven. The Millers knows they’ll need a much improved effort at Hereford next Friday evening.

“We got to get better,” said White.

No. 7 Milford Mill Academy 14, No. 19 New Town 12

New Town 0 6 0 6 – 12

Milford Mill 0 7 7 0 – 14

Second quarter

Milford Mill – Khalil Scott 5 pass from Rishon Holmes (Jakell Gaskins kick)

New Town – Zavion Woodard 6 run (kick failed)

Third quarter

Milford Mill – Tyree Sheppard 7 pass from Holmes (Gaskins kick)

Fourth quarter

New Town – Chris Maddox 21 pass from Brian Williams (run failed)