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Milford falls to Windham, 27-23

posted Oct 8, 2013, 9:43 AM by Milford Spartans
WINDHAM – The Milford High School football team had opportunities Saturday afternoon to close the door on Windham.

But at the start of the fourth quarter, the door was still wide open, and the Jaguars ran right through it.

Brendan McInnis threw two touchdown passes in the final quarter – one each to Anthony Gallo and Joey Frake – and Windham forced Milford to turn the ball over on its final two possessions in a 27-23 win for the Jaguars in a Division II South Conference game.

McInnis finished the game 5 of 9 passing for 216 yards and three touchdowns, connecting with Gallo twice for scores, as the Jaguars (4-1) only outgained the Spartans 381-377. But three Milford turnovers, including a fumble in the third quarter at Windham’s 3-yard line, and 47 yards in penalties proved to be costly for the Spartans (3-2).

“You turn the ball over, you can’t win a football game,” Milford coach Keith Jones said. “We kept giving them opportunities to come back and they came back. You can’t do that.”

Milford got 219 yards rushing and three touchdowns from Mitchell Banuskevich, as the Spartans found the end zone on their first three drives,

finding success around the edges of the Windham defense.

But the Jaguars made some adjustments midway through the second quarter, making it tougher for Milford to take advantage of its speed on the outside.

“We knew they had a terrific perimeter game,” Windham coach Bill Raycraft said. “We repped that (in practice), but unfortunately, we can’t rep it as well as they do it live.

“Their speed caught us off guard a little bit. We had to make some substitutions this week because of injuries. We needed guys to step up. We made adjustments, went man-to-man in the second half and did a little spying.”

The Spartans took a 20-13 lead into halftime, and after forcing a fumble on Windham’s opening drive, Milford pounded its way inside the Jaguars’ 10-yard line. But on first-and-goal from the 9, Evan Perron (52 yards rushing) fumbled the ball and Windham’s Kellin Bail recovered at the 3.

The Milford defense was able to hold Windham and the Spartans got the ball back on the Jaguars’ 42, setting up a 27-yard field goal by Ross Briggs that made it a 23-13 lead for the Spartans with 2:03 left in the third.

It looked like the Spartans would make another stop, as Windham’s next drive appeared to stall in Milford territory. But on fourth-and-3 at the Spartans’ 32, McInnis found Gallo alone behind the secondary for a touchdown, and the conversion made it 23-21 Milford with 9:06 to play.

After a three-and-out by Milford, McInnis hit Frake for a short game on second down and the Windham junior slipped two tackles and outran everyone for a 70-yard touchdown. This time, the conversion failed but the Jaguars led 27-23 with 6:11 left.

“He’s a guy that we want to have the ball in his hands,” Raycraft said of McInnins. “He’s coming of age.”

Jones knew how well the Windham quarterback could throw the ball coming in, and the Spartans pass defense broke down a few too many times.

“We were very well-aware what they were capable of and what they could,” Jones said. “We just weren’t in the right place all time and we have to do a better job.”

Milford got down to the Windham 23 on the ensuing drive, but a fumble by quarterback Harrison Urda was recovered by the Jaguars. The Spartans were able to get the ball back with 1:19 left, but on second down, an Urda pass was picked off by Bail.

“Both teams left it out here,” Jones said. “This stinks, but I don’t think anybody can walk away saying they didn’t give it everything they had. It was a great game, we’re on the wrong end of it, but there’s always next week.”
 
Saturday, October 5, 2013
By JOE MARCHILENA
Staff Writer
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