To say that Milford Mill was frustrated with its recent results against Franklin would be an understatement. The Millers hadn’t beaten Franklin since 2012, neither in the playoffs nor the regular season. Until Saturday.
The Millers rallied for 20 fourth-quarter points and sweated out a last-second comeback attempt to beat the Indians, 26-21, in a key game for the Class 3A North region.
The win puts the Millers (6-1, 5-1 Baltimore County Division I) in the driver’s seat for regional seeding in the upcoming state playoffs. It also erases some tough memories.
“It feels amazing,” said Milford quarterback Brandon Savage, who finished with a touchdown pass and 48 yards rushing. “We have such a great rivalry with them. It’s even more special because we were down, and we came back.”
It appeared like more disappointment and frustration would continue for the Millers when Franklin quarterback Larry Smith found slot receiver Linwood Nicolas Jr. on a 66-yard completion to give Franklin at 21-6 lead with 58 seconds left in the third quarter. This time, though, things would be different.
On their first possession of the fourth quarter, the Millers took advantage of great field position after a bad punt, and began a drive at the Franklin 18. Two plays later, Savage spotted Ugo Obasi in the back of the end zone for a touchdown. After a Savage run on the conversion, the Millers had life, trailing 21-14 with 9:29 left.
It was then that White decided to try a squib kick. The ball bounced off the turf before eventually being recovered by Troy Scott Jr. at the Franklin 13-yard line.
“It’s something we practice,” White said of the squib kick. “When it gets on this turf, it’s hard to scoop the ball up. It’s an important part of our game plan.”
Two plays later, Skylar Baker ran the ball in from 8 yards out with 8:38 left to cut the lead to 21-20 after a failed conversion run.
On Franklin’s next possession, the Indians (5-2, 4-2) moved the ball to their own 41, before a Smith pass was intercepted by Savage at the 50 with 7:41 left in the game.
On the second play after the turnover, Savage took off down the sideline for a 35-yard gain to the 17. After a penalty for a late hit out of bounds, the Millers had a first-and-goal at the Franklin 9. Two plays later, Desmond Shell ran the ball in from 5 yards out to give the Millers the lead, 26-21, with 5:54 left.
White again used a squib kick to keep the Indians off-balance, and the play worked again when Derek Davis Jr. recovered the kick. Although Milford Mill didn’t score on the drive, the Millers kept the ball for several minutes until they had to punt with 2:30 left.
Franklin drove the ball from its own 25 to the Milford Mill 9-yard line, but an errant snap over Smith’s head with 9.7 seconds left sealed the fate of Franklin, and touched off a wild celebration on the Milford Mill sideline.
“I played in Super Bowl XXIX for the Chargers, and I was on the losing side when Steve Young finally got the monkey off his back about not being able to win the big one,” Milford Mill coach and former NFL player Reggie White said. “I know this is nowhere near as important as that was, but I can honestly say I know how Steve Young feels like. It feels pretty good.”
MM 6 0 0 20 -- 26
FR 0 7 14 0 -- 21
MM – Scott 11 run (kick failed)
FR – Hylton 20 run (Hermann kick)
FR – Solomon 13 run (Hermann kick)
FR – Nicolas 66 pass from Smith (Hermann kick)
MM – Obasi 1 pass from Savage (Savage run)
MM—Baker 8 run (run failed0
MM- Shell 5 run (pass failed)