Ground game lifts Milford by DMA 26-17 in home opener

Milford’s Jabraih Luke dives for extra yardage against Delaware Military Academy in the first quarter. Delaware State News/Marc Clery

MILFORD — Marquis Gillis brought the thunder and Jabraih Luke provided the lightning.

The Milford High backfield tandem combined for 274 yards and a pair of touchdowns on the ground in the Buccaneers’ 26-17 nonconference win over Delaware Military Academy Friday night at Briggs Stadium.

It marks Milford’s first win over the Seahawks (1-1) since the 2016 season and avenges last year’s 37-7 road loss.

“Thunder and lightning, man. Those two guys are just workhorses,” said Milford coach Shaun Strickland. “They came in at the half and they said, ‘just keep giving us the ball, we don’t want to come off the field.’

“I’ve praised them all offseason for their work and I said it would show, and now we’re two games deep and those two have proven to be probably the best tandem I’ve seen so far in the state.”

The Bucs’ Anthony Diaz celebrates his fumble recovery in the first quarter.

Luke combined for 205 total yards, rushing for 155 on 16 carries and catching one pass for 50 yards. He scored on a 50-yard touchdown run in the first quarter.

Gillis ran for 119 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries.

“The offensive line did a good job,” said Luke. “I feel like when they’re blocking, we can do anything, we can beat any team. And that’s what we did, we proved that today. This really boosts our confidence.”

Sophomore starting quarterback Shawn Saxon ran for a pair of touchdowns on QB keepers of one and two yards.

Devon Green received the bulk of the workload out of the backfield for the Seahawks, running for a pair of touchdowns in the second half.

The Bucs’ Anthony Diaz dives on a Delaware Military Academy fumble in the first quarter.

Defensively, Milford (2-0) forced a pair of turnovers, three punts and limited the DMA offense to three points in the first half.
Anthony Diaz and A.J. Letthand recovered the two fumbles for the Bucs.

“The defense has been solid,” said Strickland. “We have to eliminate some mistakes and just clean it up but, man, our defense keeps us in it and our offense is driving.”

It took just one play for Gillis to make his presence felt, as he rumbled for a 30-yard run on the opening play of the game.

The two running backs helped Saxon orchestrate a seven play, 75-yard scoring drive on the opening possession.

Saxon then capped the drive with a one-yard touchdown on the QB keeper.

After forcing a DMA punt, Milford put together a second straight 75-yard scoring drive, capped by Luke’s 50-yard touchdown run. Gillis’ two-point conversion put the Bucs ahead 14-0 with 3:21 remaining in the quarter.

The Seahawks broke up the shutout bid after settling for a 24-yard field goal on their third offensive possession.

Gillis ran for a two-yard touchdown in the second quarter, capping an eight-play, 61-yard drive to give the Bucs the 20-3 halftime advantage.

The Seahawks jumped back in the game with Green’s four-yard score at the 6:15 mark of the third quarter.

Milford’s Marquis Gillis rushes against Delaware Military Academy in the first quarter.

His second touchdown, with 6:48 remaining, pulled the Seahawks to within 20-17.

“We knew going into the game this wasn’t going to be easy,” Strickland said. “We knew they’re a disciplined team and they’re not going to quit. So, we went into half and told them it wasn’t over. We knew we had to come out, move the ball and control the clock.”

The Bucs’ defense forced a quick three-and-out the next DMA possession.

Milford then orchestrated an 11-play, game-clinching drive capped with Saxon’s two-yard touchdown run.

Facing fourth-and-three at DMA’s 24-yard line during the drive, Gillis ran the ball outside for a six-yard gain and the first down to keep the drive alive and set up Saxon’s touchdown.

Reach staff writer Ben Heck at bheck@newszap.com

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