NHIAA Football: Windham gets past Milford in Div. II battle
WINDHAM - Although it's early October, Saturday's Division II matchup between Windham and Milford had the look of a playoff game.
Each team entered the contest with a 3-1 record, which was good for second place - behind Trinity of Manchester (4-1) - in Division II South. The winner would have a clear edge over the loser in the battle for one of the two playoff spots that will be awarded to that conference.
It didn't look like Windham would come out on top, but the Jaguars erased a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter and prevailed 27-23.
"This was a big one," Windham coach Bill Raycraft said. "We talked all week about this being a playoff game. We knew before the season started that Trinity was going to be a good team, so it was who was going to get that second spot? The kids responded to that pressure."
Windham took the lead for the first time when quarterback Brendan McInnis hooked up with Joey Frake for a 69-yard touchdown pass that capped the scoring with 6:11 to play.
Milford drove to the Windham 23 on the ensuing possession, but the Jaguars stripped the ball from Milford quarterback Harrison Urda and pounced on the fumble with 2:57 to play. Milford's final possession ended when Kellin Bail intercepted an Urda pass at midfield with 42.9 seconds left.
Milford had three turnovers in the second half, the first of which was a fumble at the Windham 3-yard line early in the third quarter.
"In any sport it's the mistakes," Milford coach Keith Jones said. "You can't turn the ball over and win a football game. They're a good team. We kept giving them opportunities to come back, and they came back. They deserved it. They earned it."
McInnis had three TD passes in the victory. He completed a 33-yard scoring pass to Anthony Gallo earlier in the fourth quarter. That touchdown, which came on a fourth-and-four play, plus a McInnis pass to Frake for the two-point conversion cut Milford's lead to 23-21 with 9:06 remaining.
McInnis also connected with Gallo for a 65-yard TD pass on Windham's opening possession in the first quarter. Windham's other TD came on a 2-yard run by Shane Lafond that made it a 13-13 game with 2:55 left in the first quarter.
Milford received three rushing touchdowns from Mitchell Banuskevich (4, 41 and 2 yards). Milford's Ross Briggs also made a 27-yard field goal.
"Top two from our conference make the playoffs and right now we're behind (Windham)," Jones said. "The winner of this game was in the driver's seat."