MILFORD Neither team was giving an inch. In fact, they were pushing each other back much of the time.
So when Kirby Williams saw a hole break wide open late in the fourth quarter, the Woodbridge running back knew exactly what he had to do.
“I thought, ‘This is my chance. I’ve got to go,’” Williams said. “Because if I don’t, you saw the scoreboard, we might have lost.”
Williams sprinted 22 yards for the decisive touchdown with 2:02 left as Woodbridge rallied for a critical, 17-14 victory over Milford on Friday night at Briggs Stadium.
“It was kind of crazy,” Blue Raiders coach Ed Manlove said. “It was not what I expected, but I’ll take it any way I can get it.”
It was the true definition of a defensive battle, with a couple of big plays sprinkled in. But Woodbridge (5-3, 3-1) – ranked 10th in Division II – erased a seven-point deficit in the final 4:40 to keep its Henlopen South title hopes alive. Eighth-ranked Milford slipped to 5-3, 2-2.
“Our defense put up a fight,” Buccaneers coach Shaun Strickland said. “We asked them to do everything they could. For them to only give up 17 points when we weren’t giving them the ball in good field position, we should have come out on the other end. The offense didn’t hold up their end.”
Neither offense could generate much, as the teams combined for 28 plays that lost yardage. But Milford got it going in the right direction on its first drive, with William Kimmel hooking up with Brion Murray for pass plays of 22 and 49 yards down to the 8. David Bowman punched it in from the 4 on third-and-goal to give the Bucs a 6-0 lead.
A defensive play set up the first Woodbridge score, as the Blue Raiders got a sack, fumble and recovery by Joshua Roth at the Bucs 20. Ju’Wan Massey took it the distance on the next play, and the extra point by Megan Joseph put the Blue Raiders on top 7-6 with 1:52 left in the first quarter.
It stayed that way midway through the third quarter, when the Woodbridge punter fumbled a snap and Milford’s Shawn Snowden dropped him for a 7-yard loss at the Woodbridge 38. Kimmel went deep to Murray on the next play, and the junior receiver hauled it in for the go-ahead touchdown. Kimmel’s two-point run made it 14-7.
The Blue Raiders earned a first-and-goal at the 6 midway through the fourth quarter, but couldn’t score as Bowman made two big stops. But the Buccaneers couldn’t move, either, and Shymere Vessels sacked Kimmel in the end zone for a safety to pull Woodbridge within 14-9 with 4:40 to play.
The Blue Raiders returned the ensuing punt to the Bucs 41, then barely converted a fourth-and-3. Three plays later, on third-and-1 from the 22, Williams found clear sailing up the middle for the winning score. Jaylyn Magee added a two-point run to make it 17-14.
Then the Woodbridge defense rose up one more time, as Garret Temple jumped the route on a short pass and made a diving interception at the Bucs 36 with 1:44 remaining.
“Defensively, we were lights out,” Manlove said. “I thought we did a fantastic job.”
The Blue Raiders held Milford to 34 yards on 37 rushes, but Kimmel did complete 6 of 13 passes for 123 yards. Woodbridge only managed 97 total yards, including 61 yards on 41 carries.
“We made a ton of mistakes, and they were just pushing us around the field,” Manlove said. “We just kept going. We kept trying to find something to crack their defense.”
Williams found the crack when the Blue Raiders needed it most.
Contact Brad Myers at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter: @BradMyersTNJ