Milford brings back the bell for first time in five years

FELTON — In the Battle of the Bell rivalry’s 48-year history, no school has ever won six straight years. But the Lake Forest Spartans, led by head coach Fred Johnson, went into Friday night’s showdown looking to do just that.

Seeking to avenge last year’s 39-26 Battle of the Bell defeat, the one-loss Milford Buccaneers had other plans, winning convincingly 37-0.

Despite a slow start offensively, leading at halftime by just one touchdown in a 7-0 game, head coach Shaun Strickland’s defense stood strong.

“When I first came here my dad was telling me ‘hey go get that bell back,’ so that was one of my goals when I took this job,” Strickland said of his team’s win. “I really wanted to bring that bell home and to bring it back not just for us but for this community.”

The only first half touchdown came on an 87-yard connection from quarterback William Kimmel to receiver Marcus Correa.

Lake's Elle Harden is stopped by the Buccaneer defense led by LB Dominyc Hovington, left.

Lake’s Elle Harden is stopped by the Buccaneer defense led by LB Dominyc Hovington, left. (Special to the Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh)

A missed field goal opportunity on the Bucs’ first second half possession gave the Spartans the opportunity to tie the game up. Following a three-and-out, however, Milford took the ball over at midfield and capped the team’s second scoring drive off with a David Bowman 14-yard touchdown run.

This opened the floodgates for Milford.

On the Spartans’ next drive, Milford recovered a fumble and took full advantage of the turnover and momentum. Facing a fourth down and 11, Kimmel threw his second touchdown pass of the game on a 25-yard pass to receiver Brion Murray. The extra point made it a 21-0 lead for the Buccaneers.

Starting on their own five-yard line the following drive, Lake Forest attempted to dig themselves out of a 21-point fourth quarter hole.

A sack of Bizzell in the end zone gave a safety and two more points to Milford. Getting the ball back with a short field to work with, Bowman managed to run in his second touchdown of the game with 7:01 to play.

A few minutes later senior defensive back Chris Sampson intercepted a Lake Forest pass and returned it 42 yards for a touchdown, capping Milford’s scoring.

Despite one last-ditch effort for Lake Forest to put points on the board, Milford walked away with a victory. The win marked the team’s third shutout of the season.

Milford’s defense allowed Lake Forest’s top running back Elle Harden to gain just 39 rushing yards on 25 carries. Aside from a 52-yard pass to Jaylen Farlow, Milford’s defensive unit didn’t allow any huge plays against Lake Forest’s offensive attack.

“Our defense looked great, they buckled down,” Strickland said. “I couldn’t be more proud.”

Coming off his three touchdown performance last week in a win over Delmar, running back David Bowman ran for 119 yards and two touchdowns on 18 carries for the Buccaneers.

Quarterback William Kimmel added 76 yards and two touchdowns on 6-of-12 passing, with his two touchdown passes going to receivers Correa and Murray.

“To finally bring the bell back, it feels good,” said senior Dominyc Hovington.

“It’s great, I just love the atmosphere right now,” Sampson said following the win.

Milford (9-1) will prepare for the state playoffs, while Lake Forest (2-8) will begin preparations for next season.

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