Bucs keep playoff hopes alive with 42-7 Battle of the Bell victory

Milford’s David Bowman takes a handoff from quarterback Tayone Matthews and looks for an opening in the line against Lake Forest. (Special to the Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh)

MILFORD — Facing a must-win situation Friday night, the Milford Buccaneers capped the regular season with a convincing 42-7 win over rival Lake Forest to keep their postseason hopes alive.

The victory marked the team’s second consecutive “Battle of the Bell” win, following last year’s 37-0 shutout win over Lake.

“It’s much-needed to pick us up after last week and give us some momentum,” said head coach Shaun Strickland. “Guys came out and played inspired. That’s what we were looking for, they came out, did it tonight and was much-needed to get us back on track.”

At 7-3, the Bucs’ playoff hopes are still alive and well depending on how Saturday’s slate of games unfold.

Milford running back Rahshawn Price churns past Spartan defender Blake Thompson for a first down in the first half Friday night.

Senior running back David Bowman ran for four touchdowns on his way to surpassing the 5,000-yard and 70 touchdown milestones for his high school career.

“When you say some guys are just truly one of a kind, he’s one of a kind,” Strickland said. “He’ll be greatly missed. I love the kid to death, and I’m glad he’s put it together this season, stayed healthy and worked every week.”

Including Bowman, three Milford runners would surpass 100 yards in the game, with junior Rahshawn Price and senior Jordan Waters joining him.

Tyare Miller of Lake Forest picks up a kickoff and returns it to the right trying to get away from Tyron Mifflin in the first quarter.

Coming off a tough loss to Delmar a week prior, Milford knew they needed to come out of the gate strong against the Spartans.

“It was different from last year because we came out with more energy,” said junior Tyron Mifflin. “It wasn’t flat this year because we thought they had a chance, never underestimate anyone.”

Bowman set the tone early for the Bucs.

On the first play from scrimmage, Bowman picked off a Desaun Bizzell pass and returned it 32 yards for a Milford touchdown. Junior placekicker Jonathan Gaglione’s extra point put the Bucs ahead 7-0.

Less than three minutes later, after recovering a Lake Forest fumble, Milford jumped ahead two touchdowns. Bowman put the ball into the end zone once again on an eight-yard touchdown run with 9:14 remaining in the opening quarter.

“Our coaches always say if I do something big, I set the tone for the team. So, I always try to do something big. I just set the tone, and everybody got hyped. It felt good.”

Lake Forest would cut the lead in half late in the opening quarter as Bizzell hit senior running back Nick Lane over the middle of the field for a 54-yard touchdown. Carter Kenton’s extra point made the score 14-7.

It would prove to be the lone Lake score of the game.

With a slim 14-7 lead nearing the end of the first half, Milford tacked on one more Bowman touchdown with four seconds to spare.

Rahshawn Price of Milford keeps a tight grip on the ball as he heads into the Spartan defense Friday night.

Bowman’s third touchdown of the night opened the flood gates.

On the first drive of the second half, junior running back Rahshawn Price scampered down the field for a 45-yard touchdown to hand Milford the 28-7 advantage.

The Bucs would force a quick Lake punt before Bowman, once again, found the end zone.

Starting the drive from their own five-yard line, the senior workhorse would dash 95 yards down the field for his fourth touchdown of the night.

Ahead 35-7, a 68-yard touchdown dash from Jordan Waters would be the icing on the cake for Milford’s second consecutive Battle of the Bell triumph.

“It feels great,” Price said of the win. “We’re just going to remain humble and stay focused this week.”

“Our focus as a team is working hard this week and, whoever we get – I’m hoping we get one of the teams we lost to this year – we’re going to handle business,” Mifflin added.

Reach staff writer Ben Heck at bheck@newszap.com

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