Game of the Week
Out Big Win
Story | Boxscore | Photos | Quotes | Notes
Other Games of the Week
Photo: Milford running back Vincent Leggins (27) led all rushers with 104 yards.
BRIDGEVILLE -- Mike Hilligoss may bristle at the suggestion, but this was just the kind of game the Milford High School football program has been known for losing in recent years.
The second-year Milford coach, himself, could think of a couple of close games the Bucs lost during a 3-7 campaign in 1999.
So while he took umbrage at the notion that his club's 14-13 victory over Woodbridge on Friday, Sept. 15, 2000, marked the start of a turnaround for his program -- "we were already turned around," he said -- the fact is, the Bucs may have made made a quantum leap forward by grasping victory from the jaws of defeat.
Milford converted a late fumble recovery by Derrick Beckett into a 1-yard touchdown run by quarterback Ryan Billings and a tough two-point conversion run by Beckett for a 14-13 lead with 2:43 remaining.
They then held their breath as Woodbridge's deadly placekicker, Ben Passwaters, came up just a few feet short and wide on a 54-yard field goal attempt with 39 seconds left.
The non-conference victory, behind a gutty defense and halfback Vincent Leggins' 104 yards rushing, raised Milford to 1-1 overall and broke a 5-game losing streak going back to last season.
It also snapped an 11-game regular season winning streak for Woodbridge, which went 10-0 during the regular season last year.
Last year, as Hilligoss began his rebuilding effort, the Bucs lost two games by five points that, had they gone the other way, would have given them a .500 season. They then started this season with a 12-6 overtime loss to Dickinson last week in a game they led 6-0.
The memories of such difficult losses, and that Woodbridge is the reigning Henlopen Conference Southern Division champion, made Friday's victory so sweet for Milford players who celebrated like they had just won a championship.
Defense helped the Bucs overcome some early difficulties and gave them the opportunity to win the game.
A fumble in the opening minutes and a 59-yard kickoff return by Woodbridge's Jeremy Maddox staked the Blue Raiders to 10 points without the benefit of a single first down.
But the defense helped the Bucs survive those early troubles as it allowed Woodbridge only three points in the game's last three quarters.
Woodbridge led 7-0 early when sophomore quarterback Jamil Young scored on a 12-yard run following the fumble recovery.
The Bucs bounced right back, though, with an 8-play, 78-yard drive capped by Billings' athletic 22-yard touchdown pass to sophomore receiver Akeem Bunch that made it 7-6. Billings was falling out of bounds as he threw the ball to Bunch in the end zone.
Following Maddox's 59-yard kickoff return late in the first period, the Buc defense stiffened and forced the Raiders to settle for a 32-yard Passwaters field goal.
The defense came up big again early in the second quarter when it forced the Raiders into a 23-yard field goal by Passwaters after a 34-yard pass from Young to Maddox had given Woodbridge a first and goal on the Milford 7.
Neither team generated much offense after that until the Bucs got the break they needed with the recovery of a Woodbridge fumble at the Raider 31 with 4:56 left in the game.
Billings immediately hit Jon Webb with a 12-yard pass for a first down and Leggins gained 18 yards on 3 carries to set up Billings' 1-yard plunge and Beckett's winning two-point conversion run.
8:53 -- WOODBRIDGE (7-0 Woodbridge)
3:22 -- MILFORD (7-6 Woodbridge)
0:56 -- WOODBRIDGE (10-6 Woodbridge)
0:56 -- WOODBRIDGE (13-6 Woodbridge)
2:43 -- MILFORD (14-13 Milford)
Total Offense -- Milford 41-166; Woodbridge 46-205.
Rushing -- Milford 36-134; Woodbridge 31-92.
Passing -- Milford 3-5-0, 32, 1 TD; Woodbridge 8-16-0, 110, 1 TD.
First Downs -- Milford 7, Woodbridge 7.
Fumbles/Lost -- Milford 1/1; Woodbridge 1/1.
Penalties/Yards -- Milford 7-39; Woodbridge 7-70.
Milford -- Vincent Leggins 18-104, Ryan Billings 9-19, J.R. Duffy 3-8, Keith Kendzierski 1-2, Derrick Beckett 5-1.
Woodbridge -- Andre Cannon 19-26, Jamil Young 16-69, Bo McDowell 1-0.
Milford -- Ryan Billings 3-5-0, 32, 1 TD.
Woodbridge -- Jamil Young 8-15-0, 110, 1 TD; Jeremy Maddox 0-1-0.
Milford -- Akeem Bunch 1-22, Jon Webb 1-12, Vincent Leggins 1-(-2).
Woodbridge -- Jeremy Maddox 4-71, Chris Horsey 4-39.
Photos (from top): Woodbridge quarterback Jamil Young (7) heads around end for some of his 66 yards rushing while Woodbridge's Andre Cannon and James Faulkner stick Milford quarterback Ryan Billings and Buc head coach Mike Hilligoss congratulates his team after the victory.
Milford head coach Mike Hilligoss on the victory:
"This is a big win for us. I'm proud of them, the hard work these guys have done. Milford's worked hard to turn it around. They work hard all the time. We've got good coaches out here ... by far, it's a big win for us."
Hilligoss on his team's defense:
"They're led by Matt Byrum. Woodbridge, they've got such great athletes for such a small town. Maddox, and the quarterback, they just get the job done and you can see, they ran the field on us pretty good. But we've got tough guys like Byrum, Duffy, Brock Taylor stepped up, and Adam Brown stepped in at key times."
Hilligoss on turning his team around:
"We're turned around. We are turned around. I don't know when the last time we won a game was ... we're turned around. This is a different Milford group. They work hard. Turning around, we dropped a tough one last week. We only lost three games last year by more than a touchdown or field goal, so we've lost a lot of tough games. They're heart-breakers when you work as hard as we do. We're out there every day in the mud, so this is a big win for us because it proves to us that if we set goals for ourselves we can reach those goals. What is different about us? We're a different kid. We're hard workers. We have different goals for oursevles. We're on a mission. It takes a long time to shake a monkey of a losing streak, and these are the guys to do it. They really are."
Milford quarterback Ryan Billings on the victory:
"This is one of the greatest games I've ever been a part of. We all stuck together and came out in the end. I don't think we would have come together at the end like we did tonight. Everybody's been together for a long time and we all stuck together and we came through in the end."
Billings on the difference in this year's team:
"Good coaching, better practicing. Everybody's a little more excited about football. We put some more effort into it in the off-season and nobody wants to lose this year. Everybody's tired of losing."
Billings on his quarterbacking style:
"If you leave me back there to pass I'll throw on you all day, but I got a little speed too, so."
Woodbridge head coach John Parker on letting Ben Passwaters try a game-winning 54-yard field goal with 39 seconds left:
"I don't second-guess myself. I thought, given the situation, that we had a better chance at the field goal than we did at a touchdown. Ben's a good kicker and you could see on his other two field goals that he had plenty of distance. I thought he deserved a chance to win it for us."
Copyright © 1999-2000 Sussex County Online