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Milford defense steps up in win over Pembroke

posted Sep 10, 2012, 1:14 PM by Milford Spartans   [ updated Sep 10, 2012, 1:24 PM ]

Now this was more like the football Milford High School coach Keith Jones knows.

A week after the Spartans were torched by Bedford’s spread offense, they bounced back Friday with a crushing performance against Pembroke. Milford gave up just 54 yards and forced four turnovers on the way to a 14-0 win in the Division III opener for both teams.

Milford (1-0 in division, 1-1 overall) rushed for 142 yards, led by Connor Borne’s 67 yards on 18 carriers, and Mitchell Banuskevich and Harrison Urda each ran for a score.

“I was happy with the guts that we played with,” Jones said. “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.”

Pembroke (0-1, 0-1) stayed in the game until late in the fourth quarter, but the Spartans had trouble moving the ball, particularly after starting quarterback Seth Gonya left the game early in the second quarter with an injury.

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

Milford’s Joe Albina fights through a tackle.

Pembroke had opened the game with a decent drive, but after Gonya’s injury, the Spartans couldn’t do much with the ball. Every time Pembroke moved into Milford territory, it went backwards, running 15 plays for minus-1 yards on the other side of the 50-yard line. And in the fourth quarter, the Spartans ran 12 plays for minus-13 yards.

“It was unfortunate that their quarterback got hurt, because it changed the game,” Jones said. “Defense played immense. 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 used its power football to get its first score. On the first play of the Spartans’ second drive, Joe Albina ran for 33 yards to set Milford up in Pembroke territory.

Facing fourth-and-5 at Pembroke’s 33, Urda connected with Ben Smith on a five-yard pass for the first down. A 9-yard run by Urda and a 10-yard run by Borne gave Milford a first-and-goal at the 9.

After Borne picked up two on first down, Banuskevich motored seven yards into the end zone to put Milford up 7-0. 

The Spartans almost got more just before halftime, but Morgan Andrews’ 39-yard field goal attempt was wide left.

“We were encouraged,” Gridley said. “At halftime, we thought we ironed out some things, but the ball bounces kind of funny.”

Three fumbles in the second half were too much for Pembroke to overcome, even though the Spartans held Milford to just 46 yards after halftime.

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.

Milford is back at home on Friday, when it hosts Merrimack Valley. Pembroke will play at home on Saturday against Hollis Brookline.