Milford scores late touchdown, stuns Dover 30-27

Marquis Gillis of Milford celebrates with his teammates after scoring on a two-point conversion and putting the Bucs up 8-0. Special to the Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh

DOVER — Milford High’s football team won’t forget its first Henlopen North victory in its return to the division anytime soon.

Against a Dover squad that looked superior on paper, the underdogs Buccaneers battled the Senators all night.

And when senior Jabraih Luke swept in for a one-yard touchdown run with just 2:20 remaining, Milford had itself a pretty stunning 30-27 victory over Dover on Friday night.

The back-and-forth contest featured six lead changes.

The final one came after Milford (1-2 North, 2-3 overall) blocked a punt and recovered it the Dover two yard line with 4:27 remaining.
The Senators stopped the Bucs on three straight running plays — including one disputed play on which Dover thought it recovered a Milford fumble.

Milford linebacker Rafael Mejia breaks through to sack Dover’s Jordan Moran and force a fumble recovered by the Bucs.

Finally, on fourth down, Luke took a pitch to the left and dove across the goal line to give the Bucs their 30-27 lead.

Dover mounted a comeback attempt that included a rather remarkable 37-yard pass from Elijah Allen to Akil Garrett. The play, which came on a fourth-and-20, got the Senators to the Milford 39.

But the drive stalled there as the Bucs happily celebrated their first North win since moving up to the Henlopen Conference’s division for bigger schools this year.

Luke and Marquis Gillis both scored two touchdowns each as Milford snapped a two-game losing streak. Gillis finished with 185 yards on 20 carries.

The Senators (1-1 North, 2-3) got another big night from running back Vonnie Peace, who scored all four of their TDs and piled up 206 yards on 20 carries. But Dover was hurt by penalties all night.

Javon Peace of Dover gets a handoff and kicks into high gear to score a TD in the first quarter to make the score 8-6 in favor of Milford.

Peace had two long scoring plays — a 57-yard run and a 52-yard screen pass — wiped out by penalties.

The Senators also looked like they were going to score when they had a first down on the Milford one in the first quarter. But the Bucs got penetration on the next play, forcing a fumble that stopped that drive.

Even Milford’s winning TD was set up a penalty. Dover’s Jordan Moran had gotten off a good punt that had Milford back at about its own 30.

But Dover was penalized for illegal hands to the face and the Bucs blocked the second punt.

After Milford spent the whole first half building a 16-13 lead, it took Dover just one play in the second half to grab that lead back. Peace took a pitch and sprinted 67 yards for a TD that gave the Senators a 20-16 advantage.

Dover safety Tamir Caldwell intercepts a long pass intended for Kenny Reed of Milford in the first quarter.

Again, though, the Bucs responded. This time, Luke’s 38-yard kickoff return led to his one-yard scoring run on a fourth-and-goal.

Dover linebacker Tysean Nelson made a big play early in the second quarter. With the Bucs leading 8-6, the senior came out of the pile with a fumble and sprinted 59 yards to the Milford one.

Peace scored from there to give Dover a 13-8 advantage.

But Milford answered right back when Gillis bolted 67 yards up the middle for his second touchdown of the night. Another two-point conversion stretched the Bucs’ advantage to 16-13 with 8:12 left in the second quarter.

Milford jumped out to an 8-0 lead when Gillis capped off a six-play, 50-yard drive with a 12-yard scoring run. Gillis stepped out of a tackle and beat a defender to the pylon for the TD.

But on the Senators’ next play from scrimmage, Peace broke loose for a 63-yard touchdown run. Dover’s two-point conversion failed as the Bucs stayed in front, 8-6, going into the second quarter.

Reach sports editor Andy Walter at walter@newszap.com

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