A season ago, Delaware Military Academy rode a strong running game to a Division II playoff appearance.
Saturday at Delaware Stadium, the Seahawks showed they have a passing game that can do more than just complement their rushing attack.
Senior DMA quarterback Sean O’Brian went 9 of 14 passing for 138 yards and three touchdowns with two critical late completions in the Seahawks’ 27-26 nonconference victory over Milford. Vance Daniels paced the Milford attack with 12 carries for 218 yards and three touchdowns.
But Milford did not a complete a pass, while DMA showed off its balance.
“In the offseason, we made a concerted effort to become more balanced,” DMA coach Joe Aviola said. “I think today we had the ability to show that we not only can run the ball, which we like to do, but we can throw the ball.”
At no point was that commitment to passing more evident than with the Seahawks (2-0) nursing a 27-26 lead in the final minutes.
Facing a second-and-12 with a little more than three minutes remaining, DMA threw a swing pass rather than running the ball to try and bleed clock.
After that fell incomplete, the Seahawks again passed, and O’Brian connected with Michael Leonard for a 12-yard completion and first down that essentially sealed the game.
Earlier in the fourth quarter, O’Brian completed another crucial pass that provided what proved to be the decisive points. On a second-and-goal, he hooked up with Tyler Lewis for a 13-yard touchdown pass that put DMA up 27-18 with 10:52 to play.
“I saw man, and [the Milford defensive back] came up on [Lewis],” O’Brian said. “I have a lot of confidence in Tyler. I just put it up there and I know he’s going to make the play.”
While the Buccaneers (0-2) scored on a 76-yard touchdown run by Daniels to draw within one with 4:51 left, the O’Brian-to-Lewis touchdown connection was all but a crushing blow.
Milford had great success running its Wildcat offense. But, between Daniels and starting quarterback Cole Davis, the Buccaneers attempted eight passes; five of them were incomplete and three were interceptions.
Those turnovers and other mistakes were enough to do Milford in. Still, Milford coach Mike Tkach was encouraged.
“We faced so much adversity that first half, ” Tkach said. “But my kids rallied and they kept battling the whole time and put themselves in a position to win this game all the way up until the end.”