No. 9 Millers drop Edgewood for 3A North crown; Scott and Shell combine for 5 TDs (VIDEO HERE!!)

by Derek Toney

As his teammates departed Milford Mill Academy’s football field after winning the Class 3A North Region title Saturday afternoon, Troy Scott clutched the championship plaque to his body. The running back has experienced loss, on and off the field, in his four-year varsity career.

The No. 9 Millers’ 33-14 victory over 16th-ranked Edgewood didn’t completely erase Scott’s past pain, but it was certainly gratifying. For the first time since 2012, Milford Mill is headed to the state semifinals.

Behind huge performances from Scott and junior Desmond Shell, the Baltimore County squad pulled away from the upstart Rams in the second half to win its 11th straight decision. The Millers (11-1 overall) will host Long Reach in a state semifinal contest next Saturday.

“It’s a wonderful feeling,” said Scott. “I’ve been on good teams for the past four years, but this team is something special. We’re gotten over the hump and it’s special to get this plaque.”

Scott and the Millers are in the postseason for the third time in four years, missing the playoffs in 2015 (4-6). Tyree Brown, one of Scott’s best friends and teammate, was fatally struck by car during the 2015 Christmas holiday.

The Millers were long burdened by Franklin, which won seven straight decisions including three in the North Region final. Milford Mill ended the streak with a come-from-behind win in week seven.

Scott said the victory was “a major hump,” but the Millers, who dethroned Franklin in the Baltimore County Division I league, have had a week-by-week, game-by-game focus.

“When the week comes around, it’s about business and they were in our way,” said Scott. “It did take long time.”

The Millers were able to push aside Edgewood as Scott rushed for 90 yards and three touchdowns. He gave the Millers the lead for good with a seven-yard run in the second quarter.

Milford Mill denied the Rams on a 4th-and-1 on the next possession. The next play, Scott went 50 yards down the sideline on a sweep, extending the Millers’ advantage to 21-7 with 4:32 left before halftime.

“Troy’s a downhill runner and he’s been doing it for four years,” said Milford Mill coach Reggie White. “We ride him. He’s this program.”

Edgewood (8-4), which got its first playoff victory in last week’s North semifinal decision over Franklin, got a major lift before halftime. Reyshawn Ivery-Gardner threw a short screen pass to Deonte Banks, who sprinted down the Rams’ sideline for a 48-yard touchdown with 25.2 seconds left.

Scott said the halftime message was simple.

“Don’t let up. It’s all effort,” he said.

Scott, Shell and Milford Mill’s defense slowly imposed their will in the second half. The defense forced a three-and-out, and Shell returned a punt to Edgewood’s 21-yard line.

Four plays later, Scott hit the end zone from four yards, pushing the Millers’ lead to 27-14 with 1:46 remaining in the third. Milford Mill put the Rams’ offense back on the sidelines in three plays.

On the second play from scrimmage in the fourth, Shell took a sweep pitch, hurdled a defender near the sidelines and broke away for a 68-yard touchdown run. One of the area’s most dynamic performers, the junior had more than 200 all-purpose yards Saturday, including a 56-yard punt return in the first quarter to open the game’s scoring.

“Every time he had his hands on the punt, he would bring it up 40 yards,” said Edgewood coach Charles Johnson. “I finally told my punter, ‘Just kick the ball to me.'”

White said Shell (92 yards rushing) suffered an allergic reaction Saturday morning. He wasn’t ready to go until 15 minutes before kickoff.

“Every time I get the ball, I look to score,” said Shell, who returned an interception 40 yards into Edgewood territory in the fourth quarter but two Milford Mill penalties during the return put the ball back on Milford Mill’s side of the field.

Edgewood, which didn’t have junior quarterback Antwan Banks Saturday, had minus-17 yards and no first downs in the second half. Johnson said Banks, who scored three touchdowns against Franklin suffered a leg injury during the victory.

The Rams got a 26-yard touchdown run from Deonte Banks, tying the game in the first quarter. Edgewood had 11 positive yardage plays in the opening half, but only two in the second.

“We had to revamp our offense this week,” said Johnson. “We couldn’t run a lot of plays that Antwan ran.”

Edgewood, one of three Harford County programs in action on region final weekend (Harford Tech and Havre de Grace won titles Friday evening), hope to carry its playoff run into 2018 with cousins Antwan and Deonte Banks headlining 25 underclassmen.

The Millers have an opportunity to go where no Milford Mill squad since 1987 has gone: a state football final. In 2012, Milford Mill lost at home to southern Maryland’s Huntingtown in a 3A semifinal.

Desmond Shell (left) and Troy Scott helped Milford Mill Academy win its first region title since 2012, combining for 192 rushing yards and four rushing score in Saturday’s Class 3A North final victory over No. 16 Edgewood. The ninth-ranked Millers host Long Reach next Saturday for a trip to Navy-Marine Corps Stadium and the state final.

“Last year, we had great players, like this team, but we had lack of effort on certain plays,” said Scott. “This team gives it all every day. From practice Monday to game day Saturday, we’re finishing.”

Class 3A North Region final

No. 9 Milford Mill 33, No. 16 Edgewood 14

Edgewood 7 7 0 0 – 14

Milford Mill 7 14 6 6 – 33

First quarter

Milford Mill – Shell 56 punt return (Downs kick)

Edgewood – D. Banks 26 run (Burkhardt kick)

Second quarter

Milford Mill – Scott 7 run (Downs kick)

Milford Mill – Scott 50 run (Downs kick)

Edgewood – D. Banks 52 pass from Ivery-Gardner (Burkhardt kick)

Third quarter

Milford Mill – Scott 4 run (pass failed)

Fourth quarter

Milford Mill – Shell 68 run (run failed)