Bucs earn spot in Div. II state championship with 14-7 semifinals win

WILMINGTON – When the clock hit double zeros on the scoreboard Saturday afternoon, Milford head coach Shaun Strickland was already ready to move on and prepare for his next opponent.

His Bucs had just defeated Wilmington Friends, 14-7, in the DIAA Division II semifinals to set-up a rematch with Delmar in next Saturday’s state championship game.

“Everyone just told me to stay in the moment, and I already said it’s time to start working on film for Delmar,” Strickland said following the semifinal win.

Milford hopes to avenge their 35-10 Week 9 loss to Delmar earlier this season.

“We knew that Delmar is a good team and that they’d probably make it to the finals, and the only way we’d get a rematch is to get through these two teams – Woodbridge and Friends,” senior running back David Bowman said.

Senior running back David Bowman (3) looks for an open lane as his teammates Jordan Waters (21) and Terrell Gibbs (11) block for him (The Chronicle/Ben Heck).

The No. 4-seeded Buccaneers used a pair of first-half rushing touchdowns from Bowman to catapult past the Quakers in the semifinals.

Bowman’s 26-yard touchdown run on Milford’s second possession of the game, followed by the extra point from junior placekicker Jonathan Gaglione, put the Bucs up 7-0 with 2:14 to play in the opening quarter.

On the ensuing Milford drive, Bowman struck again with a 44-yard touchdown scamper to put the Bucs up 14-0 with 9:45 to play in the opening half.

“For Bowman to do what he’s done all year, we’ve leaned on him and he’s a special kid,” Strickland said. “I wouldn’t want it in anyone else’s hands but his and he did a good job tonight. He ended up going over 2,000 total yards on the year. This is great for him, he’s worked so hard for it.”

With a 14-0 halftime lead, Milford’s defensive unit continued to make plays when it needed them most.

Late in the fourth quarter, Wilmington Friends quarterback Wyatt Nelson tossed a 21-yard touchdown to Quentin McAbee to cut the lead in half with 4:52 to play.

After forcing a quick Milford punt, the Quakers got the ball back at their own 35-yard line with 2:56 to play.

Needing a stop, Bevensky Augustin recorded a sack on 1st & 10. Three plays later, an incomplete pass on 4th & 8 clinched the game for the Bucs.

Junior Mardis Powell drags down a Quakers ball-carrier in the backfield during Saturday’s semifinal showdown (The Chronicle/Ben Heck).

“I don’t know what it is, but every year everyone sleeps on Milford,” Bowman said. “I don’t know why, but it’s good we’re finally stepping up and showing people that we can get to the finals. It feels good.”

“It feels great,” said junior Tyron Mifflin. “We did what we were supposed to do, we didn’t listen to the outsiders. We played our game and we got the result we wanted today.”

After starting the season 1-2, Milford has now won eight of their last nine games and will be playing for their second state championship title.

“We’ve grown since Week 1. That schedule, and facing adversity early, here we are going into December now,” Strickland said. “We had a lot of questions early with our schedule, we faced it and overcame it.”

“I’m really excited to go from a 1-9 record my freshman year to a 7-3 record and moving on to the state championship my senior year,” said starting center Thomas Eisenbrey.

The Div. II state championship showdown will be played at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 2 at University of Delaware in Newark.

Sports Editor Ben Heck can be reached at bheck@newszap.com.

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