Milford Mill tops No. 20 Long Reach for state 3A football final berth; Savage throws 2 TDs (VIDEO HERE!!)
by Nelson Coffin
The wait is over.
After 30 years, Milford Mill Academy is returning to a state title game with one of the star players from its 1987 Class C championship squad — coach Reggie White — leading the charge.
White’s first words to his team after a 33-6 triumph over Long Reach in a Class 3A state semifinal on Saturday afternoon on the Millers’ home turf were both joyous and direct.
“We’re going back to the ‘ship, baby!,” White bellowed while his jubilant players cheered.
No. 8 Milford Mill’s 12th straight victory after an opening-game loss to Frederick County’s Tuscarora earned the North Region champs a berth in the state final against another Frederick school, Linganore, at 7 p.m. at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis on Thursday.
“I played on the team that won it in ’87,” said White, who played his college ball at North Carolina A&T before logging four years in the NFL with the San Diego Chargers and the New England Patriots. “To go back is just so special, but that’s not what we want. We want to go win it. So we’re going to put the work in and see what happens Thursday night against a fine Linganore team coached by Rick Connor.”
The Millers’ defense did its best to harass and harry the 20th-ranked Lightning’s ground game that featured KaDarrian Booker, a senior running back who had accumulated more then 1,400 yards and scored 18 touchdowns this season coming into the game.
However, it was tough sledding for Booker against a stout Milford Mill (12-1 overall) front seven, so much so that after the first series he had only two carries for minus-1 yard until the third quarter.
“One thing we knew they’d try to do was to take the running game away,” Long Reach coach Jamie Willis said. “And they did. Milford Mill is a great football team, and they’re been here before. We just didn’t play well offensively.”
By the time Booker did start to get untracked, the Millers were ahead, 21-0, having jumped out on top on a 10-yard pass from senior quarterback Brandon Savage to senior wideout Ugo Obasi late in the first quarter.
Obasi, an University of Virginia commit who finished with four receptions for 62 yards, tightroped his way down the sideline after making the grab to put his team on top.
The hosts added to their advantage on a 15-yard run senior running back Troy Scott and a 36-yard pick-six by junior running back/safety Desmond Shell to boast a three-touchdown lead at the half. Scott rans 15 times for 108 yards and two touchdowns in the contest and Shell shined on both sides of the ball, adding 74 yards rushing on 11 carries.
“All week at practice, I had trouble covering that route,” Shell confided. “But I had a lot of film study, a lot of prep, and I knew I had to jump that route.”
Shell’s play made the Millers’ lead seem impossible to overcome, although the Lightning (8-4) kept pushing forward after the intermission.
With Booker carrying the ball eight times for 36 yards and converting a screen pass into a 26-yard gain during an impressive 12-play drive that took more than seven minutes, Long Reach penetrated to the Milford Mill 3-yard line before the drive stalled.
Junior linebacker Kevin Henson-Neal and sophomore linebackerJordan Morant, junior defensive lineman Darius Woods and senior defensive end Nicholas White made key stops during the series.
After senior inside linebacker Jason Massengil recovered a Miford Mill fumble, the Lightning put together another drive, most of it passing plays.
Senior quarterback Tyler Moore’s 22-yard strike to senior wideout Derrick Noble set up the signal-caller’s 4-yard run for the Howard County school’s only touchdown of the game.
The Millers retaliated quickly when freshman Rishon Holmes (3 catches for 71 yards) collected a pass from Savage, shook off a would-be tackler and bolted into the end zone to complete a 51-yard scoring play that boosted the lead to 27-6.
Scott rumbled 46 yards on a bruising run in the fourth quarter to the Lightning 4-yard line before powering in from there for the final score.
Savage went 13-of-18 in the passing game for 199 yards and the two TD tosses, while allowing a pair of interceptions. He also ran 11 times for 58 yards.
White said that his team’s run defense was the key.
“We wanted to make them one-dimensional,” he said. “And when you can do that, you can pin your ears back, as they say, and let the d-line go and send a linebacker every now and then and have tight coverage in the back. We had the ability to do that, and we’re just excited about the win.”
CLASS 3A STATE FOOTBALL SEMIFINAL
NO. 8 MILFORD MILL ACADEMY 33, NO. 20 LONG REACH 6
LR 0 0 6 0 — 6
MM 7 14 6 6 — 33
MM-Ugo Obasi 10 pass from Brandon Savage (Thomas Downs kick)
MM-Troy Scott 15 run (Downs kick)
MM-Desmond Shell 36 interception return (Downs kick)
LR-Tyler Moore 4 run (kick failed)
MM-Rishon Holmes 51 pass from Savage (kick failed)
MM-Scott 3 run (kick failed)