Milford Mill overcomes No. 12 Franklin in OT thriller to claim first in Baltimore County football (VIDEO HERE!)
by Nelson Coffin
At 6-feet and 220-pounds, Franklin High running back Elijah Solomon has the ability to run through and over defenders when he’s not running away from them.
On the first play from scrimmage in Friday night’s showdown of Baltimore County football squads in Reisterstown in front of an overflow crowd, the 12th-ranked Indians took advantage of the senior’s skill-set on the first play from scrimmage against No. 6 Milford Mill Academy.
The bruising runner took a handoff from junior quarterback Vernon Brown and steamed up the middle, cut quickly to his left and blazed down the sideline 72 yards and into the end zone to give Franklin a 6-0 lead just 21 seconds in.
A couple of hours and a slew of running attempts later, the Indians went back to their bread-and-butter in overtime, and the Millers were up to the challenge of holding Solomon to 7 yards in three straight runs up the middle.
On fourth down, Franklin went to the air and Milford Mill answered the bell again, knocking down the final attempt to emerge with a 19-13 victory in a Baltimore County Division I contest at McWilliams Stadium.
“That (No.) 25, he’s a horse,” Milford Mill coach Reggie White said after his team improved to 7-0 on the season, 4-0 in Division I play. “We figured they’d try to use him and they got some yardage on first down. But then we were able to get some inside pressure.”
Other than getting torched on that initial run and leaving junior wideout Von Reames wide open on what looked like blown coverage on a 25-yard pass from Brown in the third quarter for the tying score, Milford Mill’s defense came to play with its usual hard-hitting energy. The Millers forced punts on Franklin’s next four possessions and snuffed the final drive of the first half with an interception.
In addition to that pickoff, Milford Mill also had interceptions by senior defensive back Kamren Turner and junior running back Kahlil Scott.
Senior lineman Darius Woods had a pair of sacks and a tackle for a loss and junior defensive end Makai Booker also had a sack as the Millers held the Indians (5-2, 3-1 Division I), to 19 points below their average coming into Friday.
Milford Mill’s offense did just enough to secure the win, jumping ahead, 7-6, with just under five minutes remaining in the opening period on a beautiful pass from sophomore quarterback Rishon Homes to streaking junior receiver Tyree Shepherd before senior Mohamed Tall converted the extra point.
“I saw the defensive back move up,” Holmes said, noting that he called an audible on the play.
The Millers padded their lead to 13-6 with 40 seconds remaining before halftime when junior running back Jordan Morant grabbed a 10-yard screen pass from Holmes and just nicked the pylon as he was being tackled near the goal line for a touchdown.
White said that Holmes is a “special player who doesn’t know how good he is yet.”
Milford was stymied on all three of its possessions in the third quarter, owing in part to sacks by Franklin senior linemen DJ Spears and Robert Garrett. The Indians cobbled together a seven-play drive concluded when Brown found Reames all alone in the left corner of the end zone. Junior Simon Spath’s point-after deadlocked the score with just over four minutes to go in the period.
Senior defensive back Isaiah Mathis’ interception spoiled the Millers’ first drive of the final quarter and a sack by senior linebacker Jay Thompson ended another possession.
Junior defensive back Xavier Cokley also had a pick to halt the Millers, who fared better in overtime when their own horse, Morant, took just a pair of carries to score the eventual winning touchdown.
The Millers prevailed without senior all-purpose standout Desmond Shell, who went out in the second quarter with an injury.
Franklin coach Anthony Burgos said that he noticed that Shell was out of the game, although it didn’t seem to matter.
“They just have so many dynamic players,” he said. “They have guys who can fly all over the place. Hopefully, we’ll see them again (in the playoffs).”
The Millers, winners of 16 straight regular season decisions dating to back to last season, have the inside track to the Division I crown. The Washington Avenue school claimed the crown last season, on the strength of a come-from-behind 26-21 victory, ending a seven-game losing skid to Franklin.
Milford Mill head to Catonsville next Friday while Franklin is at Catonsville in Division I action.
No. 6 Milford Mill Academy 19, No. 12 Franklin 13, OT
MM 7 6 0 0 6 — 19
FR 6 0 7 0 0 — 13
FR-Elijah Solomon 73 run (kick failed)
MM-Tyree Shepherd 57 pass from Rishon Holmes (Mohamed Tall kick)
MM-Jordan Morant 10 pass from Rishon Holmes (kick failed)
FR-Von Reames 25 pass from Vernon Brown (Simon Spath kick)
MM-Jordan Morant 2 run (kick failed)