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Laurel Holds On to Beat
Milford in Key South Test
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  • Photo: Laurel's DeVry Hill gets ready to take on Milford's Dontae Tilghman (40) and Devon Hughes (11).

    Laurel's DeVry Hill

    Game of the Week Story ...

    Publisher, Sussex County Online

    Photos (from top): Milford's Keshon Hughes returns kickoff 50 yards, Buc running back R.J. Chandler avoids a Laurel defender, and Laurel fullback Chris Horsey picks up good yardage on a screen.

    LAUREL -- Two teams with their playoff hopes on the line battled it out to the wire in the Henlopen Conference Southern Division on Friday, Oct. 17, 2003.

    Milford's Keshon HughesAnd when Laurel's 20-15 victory over Milford ended in the rain after a late Milford touchdown, the Bulldogs were the only team left with much hope of winning the Henlopen South or gaining a Division II state tournament berth.

    Laurel scored all of its points in the first half and then held off Milford in the fourth quarter to rise to 3-0 in the division and 4-2 overall and keep pace with undefeated Smyrna in the Henlopen South race.

    Milford, meanwhile, fell to 1-1 in the South and 3-3 overall. The three losses will likely eliminate the Bucs from an at-large berth, so they will need substantial help from other teams to capture the South and its automatic tournament bid.

    Laurel took advantage of numerous Milford mistakes to jump out to a 20-3 halftime lead.

    Then, with rain coming down in the second half, the Bulldogs' offense bogged down while Milford's came to life in the fourth period.

    The Bucs -- who committed seven penalties in the first half including a killer 15-yarder after they recovered a mishandled punt at Laurel's 7-yard-line with 46.6 seconds left before halftime -- scored two touchdowns in the fourth period.

    Milford's R.J. ChandlerFirst, Buc quarterback Devon Hughes scored on an 11-yard run. The extra point was blocked to leave Laurel with a 20-9 lead.

    Then, Hughes teamed with wide receiver Karel DeVore on a 36-yard touchdown pass with 2:49 remaining. The Bucs failed on the two-point conversion run to remain behind, 20-15.

    Laurel quarterback Andy Hartstein, who threw for all of his 100 yards passing in the first half, recovered the Bucs' ensuing onsides kick and the Bulldogs ran out the clock from there.

    The Bulldogs built their 20-3 lead by taking advantage of Milford miscues.

    After stopping Milford on downs at their own 20 in the first quarter, the Bulldogs moved 80 yards in four plays, with Hartstein connecting with wide receiver Jeremy Bagwell on a 60-yard touchdown pass for a 7-0 lead with 4:19 left in the quarter.

    Milford pulled within 7-3 on its next possession following a 50-yard kickoff return by Keshon Hughes to the Laurel 40.

    After 15- and 12-yard runs by fullback Dontae Tilghman and halfback R.J. Chandler, respectively, the Bucs lost yardage on three consecutive plays and had to settle for a 34-yard field goal by kicker Matt Starkey.

    Laurel fullback Chris HorseyThe Bulldog offense came right back with a 9-play drive in 4 minutes and 18 seconds that running back DeVry Hill capped with a 3-yard touchdown run with 9:04 left in the half.

    Ahead 13-3, the Bulldogs took advantage of another Milford mistake late in the first half when the Bucs fumbled the ball away at their own 14 and compounded that error with a 10-yard penalty that set Laurel up at the 4. Hill bulled in on the next play to make it 20-3 with 3:13 left in the half.

    The Bucs then got a break on Laurel's mishandled punt, which set the Bucs up at the Laurel 7 with 46.6 seconds left in the second quarter.

    But the Bucs self-destructed as they fumbled the snap on second down and committed the 15-yard penalty that took them back to Laurel's 16. Hughes' pass on fourth down fell incomplete to end the threat and send the Bulldogs into the locker room up 20-3.

    For the game, Hill rushed for 123 yards on 20 carries and fullback Chris Horsey added 57 yards on 12 carries. Hartstein finished 3-for-8 for 100 yards and the touchdown pass to Bagwell.

    For Milford, Chandler and Tilghman shared the ground duties with 56 and 53 yards rushing, respectively. Hughes completed 6 of 18 passes for 103 yards. DeVore caught 4 passes for 69 yards.

    Scoring ...


    First Quarter:

    4:19 -- LAUREL (7-0 Laurel)
    Jeremy Bagwell 60 pass from Andy Hartstein
    Alex Romero kick

    1:31 -- MILFORD (7-3 Laurel)
    Matt Starkey 34 field goal

    Second Quarter:

    9:04 -- LAUREL (13-3 Laurel)
    DeVry Hill 3 run
    Kick blocked by Karel DeVore

    3:13 -- LAUREL (20-3 Laurel)
    DeVry Hill 4 run
    Alex Romero kick

    Fourth Quarter:

    N/A -- MILFORD (20-9 Laurel)
    Devon Hughes 11 run
    Kick blocked

    2:49 -- MILFORD (20-15 Laurel)
    Karel DeVore 36 pass from Devon Hughes
    Run failed

    Notes ...
  • Although it is possible Laurel could still get into the Division II state tournament with its two losses -- both to Division I teams -- it needs to win the Henlopen Conference Southern Division to guarantee a spot for the second straight year. The Bulldogs face Indian River on Oct. 24. If they win that game, they'll host Smyrna in a game that could decide the division champion on Friday, Oct. 31. Smyrna remained unbeaten with a 19-0 win over Woodbridge on Friday, Oct. 17.

  • Milford's playoff picture is much murkier. With three losses, it will be almost impossible for the Bucs to qualify for the post-season as an at-large entry. No team, in fact, has reached the Division II tournament with more than two losses in the past three seasons. Milford's main hope is to win the remainder of its games, including a big game with Smyrna at home on Oct. 24. If the Bucs win that game, they would need Smyrna and Lake Forest to beat Laurel in the season's final weeks while winning the rest of their games to capture the South and its automatic tournament bid.

  • Laurel running back DeVry Hill, who rushed for 123 yards, has now gained 100 yards rushing in five consecutive games, including 367 in the last three.

  • The Bucs' three losses have been by a total of 16 points. Laurel has now won its last two games by a total of 7 points.

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