Millers hold off the Knights for a critical Baltimore County victory
by Nelson Coffin
Desmond Shell has it, or “IT,” as Milford Mill Academy coach Reggie White said, strongly emphasizing the word after the junior linebacker’s johnny-on-the-spot play helped the No. 16 Millers fend off rallying Parkvile, 25-20, on Thursday afternoon in a key Baltimore County football game.
The Millers (4-1), who bolted to a 19-0 halftime advantage, were definitely back on their heels after the unranked Knights (3-2) stunned them with a pair of third-quarter touchdowns and were driving for the go-ahead score in the final period when an errant pitch by Parkville junior quarterback Devin Braun to a running back bounced on the turf.
The ever-present Shell, a standout two-way performer who also rushed for 124 yards on 11 carries, immediately picked up the ball and sped 62 yards down the left sideline and into the end zone to give his team a 25-14 lead with just over seven minutes remaining in regulation.
“We started out great,” the junior linebacker/running back said. “But then we made some mistakes coming out in the second half and they made a couple plays. When I got the fumble, I just knew I had to make a big play for my team. It’s a drill we practice — scoop and score — and I used those techniques to get the touchdown.”
The pivotal sequence loomed even larger after the elusive Braun raced 45 yards for his third TD of the game to pull the Knights to within 25-20 less than a minute later.
White said that Shell’s football I.Q. sets him apart from average players.
“Desmond Shell — he’s everywhere,” White said. “For some reason, he’s always where the ball is. He has ‘it’ and it shows.”
Parkville coach Justin Payne has similar affection for Braun, whose feints and quick feet flummoxed the Millers’ defense in the second half.
In addition to the aforementioned 45-yard TD scamper, the Knights signal-caller scored on runs of 2 and 28 yards to finish with 166 yards rushing on just 16 carries.
However, he was picked off twice, sacked a couple of times and the Knights lost three fumbles as well, so it wasn’t all roses for Braun.
In fact, the game ended when Braun’s desperation heave with 22 seconds to go was intercepted by junior defensive back Kendall Carter.
Still, Payne said that Braun’s determination spurred the comeback.
“He’s a tough kid,” said Payne, who was the defensive coordinator under White for three years at Milford Mill before taking over the Parkville job. “What can you say? He brought us back. But you’re not going to spot a team 19 points very often and come back and win, especially against a good team like Milford.”
Things looked easy for the Millers in the first half as they jumped ahead on a 13-yard pass from quarterback Brandon Savage to fellow senior wideout Ugo Obasi midway through the opening period.
They added another TD on a 17-yard run by senior running back Troy Scott early in the second quarter and converted a 4th-and-1 plunge by Savage with less than three minutes remaining in the first half.
From there, it appeared to be smooth sailing until Payne gave his team a stern talking-to at halftime.
“I told them that you can just warm up the bus now and go home,” he said. “We needed to buckle down defensively. We had nothing to do but fight at that point.”
The Knights did as much, most notably by stacking up Savage from the 1-yard line on the initial drive of the second half after Shell’s 70-yard run from scrimmage went to the Parkville 10-yard line.
“We just couldn’t punch it in from there,” White lamented. “Coach Savage is my old DC, so I knew that Parkville would be tough. But, you know, any win is a good win. So now we’re halfway through our first 10 games, and we’re lucky that we have six home games this season.”
NO. 16 MILFORD MILL 25, PARKVILLE 20
PHS 0 0 14 6 — 20
MMA 7 12 0 6 — 25
MM – Ugo Obesi 13 pass from Brandon Savage (Derek Davis kick)
MM – Troy Scott 17 run (kick failed)
MM – Brandon Savage 1 run (pass failed)
PHS – Devin Braun 2 run (Mike Regulski kick)
PHS – Devin Braun 28 run (Mike Regulski kick)
MM – Desmond Shell 62 fumble recovery (kick failed)
PHS – Devin Braun 28 run (kick failed)