Gaglione’s field goal the difference as Milford wins opener 3-0

GEORGETOWN – Head coach Shaun Strickland knew his Milford team’s football season-opener against Sussex Tech would be a battle.

But he may not have quite foreseen how the game would end.

Milford pulled through with a 3-0 victory over Sussex Tech Friday.

“We knew it was going to be a dogfight,” Strickland said. “Sussex Tech’s a good team, a disciplined team. My hat’s off to them. We knew we were going to have to scratch and claw for every inch.”

Junior placekicker Jonathan Gaglione turned out to be the game’s unlikely hero, drilling a 25-yard field goal with 6:54 to play in the game to hand the Buccaneers the shutout victory.

“Jonathan Gaglione is one of the most talented kickers in the state,” Strickland said. “If he ever goes to a summer camp, he could probably go kick D-I somewhere. He’s not afraid of contact. It’s the first time we’ve started camp with a kicker, and I’m so grateful he’s here.”

“I just thought ‘kick every kick like it’s an extra point.’ It doesn’t matter the yardage, just kick as hard as I can and aim straight,” Gaglione said of his game-winner.

Senior running back David Bowman helped put his team in position to attempt the kick, driving the offense down the field in the wildcat formation.

“They did a great job pinning us deep, so we basically said (to Bowman) ‘you’ve got to get us in good field position.’”

With Tech’s defense showing signs of fatigue, the Bucs made sure to capitalize with Bowman taking the snaps in the wildcat.

On that game-winning drive, Milford’s offense faced 3rd & 7, 3rd & 10 and 4th & 1 situations, with Bowman using his legs to convert each time.

“We waited until they got tired, and it was the perfect time to run the wildcat,” Bowman said.

A pass interference call put the Bucs inside the red zone, setting up Gaglione’s 25-yard attempt.

Following the successful try, Milford’s defense continued to come up with timely plays and kept the Ravens off the scoreboard for the remaining six minutes.

Freshman defensive back Marquis Gillis sealed the shutout victory with an interception as time expired on the clock.

“He came out Day 1 showing us what he could do,” Strickland said of the freshman play-maker. “We haven’t stopped believing in him since, and we’re not going to stop believing in him any time soon. Three more years with that kid.”

The two offenses combined for eight punts and eight turnovers.

On nine possessions, Milford’s defense forced four punts, picked off two passes and forced a fumble and a pair of turnovers on downs.

Bowman recovered a fumble and intercepted a pass while Gillis picked the other one off to seal the win.

“That secondary is going to be tough to throw on all year, with Bowman and the freshman Marquis Gillis stepping up and batting balls,” Strickland said.

The Week 1 showdown came down to the battle of field position, and having kicker/punter Jonathan Gaglione proved to be a difference-maker for Strickland’s Bucs.

In addition to his field goal, Gaglione also delivered a few booming punts to pin Sussex Tech deep inside their own territory. It helped in taking some of the pressure off Milford’s junior starting quarterback Tayone’ Matthews and the rest of the offense.

Milford will play its first home game of the season Friday, Sept. 15 against Delaware Military Academy.

Sussex Tech will host Salesianum Friday, Sept. 15 at 7 p.m.

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