MILFORD — Although his team led rival Milford by two touchdowns at halftime Friday night, Lake Forest football coach Freddie Johnson knew something was missing from the offensive attack.
That something was senior running back Trevon Milton.
“I asked him at halftime how many carries do you have and he said ‘one,’” Johnson said. “So I said, ‘we’re going to go to you in the second half, be ready.’”
Milton carried it 13 more times for 137 yards and three touchdowns, lifting Lake Forest to a 39-26 victory in the annual “Battle of the Bell” rivalry game.
Lake Forest finished the regular season 8-2 overall and 6-0 in the Henlopen South. The Spartans, as division champion, know they will be in next weekend’s Division II playoffs thanks to the automatic berth. With the loss, Milford (6-4, 3-3) will have to wait until games across the state finish on Saturday to see if it has enough playoff points for an at-large postseason berth.
“I told coach, ‘I’ll block for people,’ but when it’s my time to shine I do what I have to for my team,” Milton said. “We wanted this win really bad, watched film and worked hard all week and came out here and put it all in action.”
Leading 20-6 at halftime, the Spartans forced Milford to punt from midfield on its opening series.
Taking over at its own 20, Lake needed just four plays to increase its lead by six, the last of which was Milton’s 43-yard touchdown run off-tackle.
“Soon as I got the ball I saw the gap and put on the speed,” Milton said. “I knew my line was going to get the job done.”
Following another Buccaneers punt on their ensuing possession, Lake took over at its own 40 and soon opened up its largest lead of the game after Milton capped a seven-play drive with a three-yard touchdown run on fourth down. The TD gave Lake a 32-6 lead with less than 2:30 to play in the third quarter.
Its back to the wall, however, Milford didn’t quit.
Junior quarterback William Kimmel finished off a six-play drive with a three-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter and with a successful two-point conversion the Bucs made it 32-14.
From there, freshman Rashawn Price recovered an onside kick on the Spartans’ side of the field to give his team hope for a comeback.
Spartans senior Jordan Simpson, though, briefly dashed the Bucs’ hopes when he intercepted a pass on the right sideline two plays later.
“I’d been covering the tight end all game and they hadn’t been going to him much,” Simpson said of the pick. “I figured they would try to target him late in the game so I just stuck with him and did my job.”
Still, the Milford defense did its job as well and forced a quick Lake punt after the interception.
On the next play, Milford quarterback Marcus Correa connected with junior receiver Brion Murray over the middle for a 63-yard touchdown that made the score 32-20 with 8:04 to play.
Electing to kickoff instead of trying an onside kick, Milford needed to stop the Spartans quickly again on their following drive. Instead, Lake used 10 plays to run off more than five minutes of clock and Milton sealed the victory with a 10-yard touchdown run.
“Milford is a pretty good team and they played hard,” Johnson said. “We knew they would come out and battle. Our kids stepped up when they had to but we’re going to have to play better football.”
Although unsure of who his team will face in next week’s state tournament opening round or whether or not it will have to travel, Johnson said the Spartans will need to keep focused at practice this week in order to avoid the same fate they did last season – a first round loss.
“Our goal was to win the South, retain the bell and be playing at the end of the year,” he said. “It’s not going to be pleasant if we lose in the first round. The kids that were here last year understand it’s a sick feeling.”