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Defense leads Milford to win over Pembroke

posted Sep 8, 2012, 10:30 AM by Milford Spartans

Fans of high-powered, high-scoring offenses were out of luck if they went to Milford High School on Friday night.

Instead, it was a slugfest between two defenses that refused to budge.

Milford put together enough offense in the first half, and finally took advantage of a Pembroke turnover late in the fourth quarter to put away a 14-0 victory in the Division III opener for both teams.

Mitchell Banuskevich and Harrison Urda both scored rushing touchdowns for Milford (1-0 in division, 1-1 overall), as the Spartans held a 193-54 advantage in offense. Connor Borne led the way with 67 yards rushing on 18 carriers.

But in the second half, neither defense gave much ground.

"Defense played immense," Milford coach Keith Jones said. "They ripped off a couple of big plays early on, but then we settled down and started playing. It was nice to be nice to trench warfare. It was nice to not be chasing receivers around like it was Monday Night Football. It was nice to go back to power football."

Milford nearly had a power outage in the second half, as the Spartans gained just 46 yards and its only first down came on a Pembroke (0-1, 0-1) personal foul early in the third quarter. Milford benefited from two Pembroke fumbles in the fourth quarter, the second of which gave the Spartans the ball at Pembroke's 1-yard line, setting up Urda's touchdown run.

While Milford's offense was struggling, Pembroke's was stuck in reverse, particularly when it got over midfield. Pembroke ran 15 plays on Milford's side of the 50, netting minus-1 yard and losing two fumbles. And in the fourth quarter, Pembroke ran 12 plays for minus-13 yards.

"They were just plugging up the middle," Pembroke coach Brian Gridley said. "It was basically might vs. might up the middle. Milford has always had strong physical kids, and well-coached kids, and fast."

To make matters worse, Pembroke lost starting quarterback Seth Gonya early in the second quarter. The Spartans' quarterback tried to pick a first down on fourth-and-3 at the Milford 41 but came up short and suffered a leg injury that kept him out the rest of the way.

"He has a torn muscle in his lower leg," Grindley said. "We went with our sophomore quarterback (Vinny Dustin), who stepped in and I thought did a very good job for being a sophomore."

Pembroke was still in the game in the fourth quarter when punter Nicholas Francois fumbled the snap, giving Milford the ball at the Pembroke 25. But the visiting Spartans dug deep on defense and Milford's offense stalled at the 5-yard line.

Two plays later, Pembroke fumbled again, setting Milford up at the 1. After Borne was stuffed on first down, Urda squeaked through to make it 14-0 with 5:53 left in the game.

"I think we just beat a pretty good football team," Jones said. "I was happy with the guts that we played with. They were bigger than us and they were really good up front. We had to play blood and guts for four quarters and I'm happy for our kids. I thought it was a great football game."