Milton-Union bounces back; Bulldogs hand Oakwood second straight loss


Milton-Union 17, Oakwood 6
Milton-Union beat the visiting Oakwood Lumberjacks in a
tense SWBL-Southwest showdown, 17-6, on Friday night. This game, in
combination with Bellbrook’s 22-16 win over Brookville, creates a
three-way tie for first in the league with only two weeks remaining in
the season.

WEST MILTON – Milton-Union beat the visiting Oakwood Lumberjacks in a
tense SWBL-Southwest showdown, 17-6, on Friday night. This game, in
combination with Bellbrook’s 22-16 win over Brookville, creates a
three-way tie for first in the league with only two weeks remaining in
the season.

In the Bulldog’s (7-1, 4-1) wing-T offense, responsible ball
handling, deception and solid blocking are important. On this senior
night, these factors contributed to Trevor Luckenbill’s rushing for 167
yards (20 carries) and two touchdowns.

“It all starts with the line, and tonight they were blocking
particularly well,” Luckenbill said. “Jon’s (QB, Mason) faking was
important because it was just one other thing for them to think about.
If we can execute we can score. We’re the only guys that can stop us.
We had to out hit them to win, and that is what we did.”

The Bulldogs rushed for 310 yards as a team and Tyler Wilson helped
control the clock with 103 yards on 22 tough, inside carries. Even so,
both squads were unable to sustain drives early in the game. With 11:20
left in the second quarter Milton-Union finally took the lead on a
40-yard field goal.

You heard that right. In the big game when it really mattered, the
guy that couldn’t reliably make extra points last year, Kurt Brackman,
came through with a 40-yarder. He kicks with a calm authority now. In
fact, he has been nearly automatic on extra points all season.

“Brackman is proof that off season work is important,” Bulldog head
coach Bret Pearce said. “Coach (Ken) Christello has worked hard with
Kurt. Now, he has a lot of confidence and we have a lot of confidence
in him.”

Just two plays later, the Lumberjacks (6-2, 3-1) took a 6-3 lead on AJ Lewis’ 43-yard play action pass to Ben Scott.

The first half was a brutal bloodletting that only a twisted person
could have loved. Fittingly, the most dominant player on the field was
Damian Rudy, Oakwood’s punter. At one point, Rudy had punts downed on
the 2, 2, 5, 12, and 19 yard lines on successive kicks.

“I thought our punting really minimized what they were doing
offensively because the ball was in their end most of the first half,”
Lumberjack head coach Paul Stone said. “It would have been nice if we
could have gotten a couple of scores out of that. It would have altered
their thinking. Our game plan was to get ahead, and change their game
plan. We wanted to be opportunistic, but it wasn’t meant to be.”

Pearce? He concurred.

“Field position was big tonight and their punter had a fine game. He
did a great job with some not-so-great snaps, too. We’re usually
content with our defense to play the field position game, and hopefully
things will work their way out. But, it wasn’t evening out for us.
Tonight we needed a big play and we got it.

The defensive struggle resumed with a vengeance in the third quarter
only to be broken open by an 88-yard touchdown romp, with 2:25 left, by
Trevor Luckenbill. Luckenbill was running a garden variety counter off
right tackle when he cut abruptly towards the sidelines. Freed by a
great kickout block by Wilson, a block downfield by Brendon Johnson,
and with Cory Warner as an escort, he raced down the field untouched.

Moments later, the Bulldogs put the game away after a relentless
18-play, 73 yard drive that culminated in a 15-yard Luckenbill
touchdown jaunt. The series took a full 8:32 off the clock. Three plays
after that, Luckenbill made an acrobatic interception of an AJ Lewis
desperation pass and the game was over.

“It was just little things: a broken tackle here, a fourth-and-one
there; and then we didn’t get the three points on the field goal at the
end of the half,” Stone said. “I give them credit. Milton-Union kept
the ball on that last drive and wore us down. Our defense had been
phenomenal all night up until that point. They have the kind of kids
that can do that to you because their running backs run so hard.

“We weren’t finishing things off. We stopped tackling. Maybe we were tired, I don’t know.”

Last week, Milton-Union lost to Brookville in a 42-36 shootout
largely because they couldn’t stop them from running between the

“I thought we were mentally prepared this week, and I thought our
defense played well,” Pearce said. “Last week, Brookville had some big
plays off tackle but it wasn’t consistent. We were able to limit those
today. Oakwood has some great athletes. Hardy, Lewis, and Sherk
certainly scared us. Being able to limit those guys and keeping their
big plays to 15 or 20 yards was the key.”

Hardy was held to 68 yards (19 carries). Sherk pitched in with 52 yards (7 carries). Lewis had 81 yards on 5-for-14 passing.

While the SWBL-SW descends into chaos for the last two weeks of the
season, only surprising Bellbrook (3-4, 3-1) holds fate in their own
hands. In a three-way tie with Oakwood and Milton-Union, they find
themselves visiting the Lumberjacks next week, and hosting the Bulldogs
the week after that.

If they win both games they will be the undisputed champions.

Teams with four loses don’t usually make the playoffs, but a league
title would be sweet consolation for the fast improving Golden Eagles.
With nothing to lose they can still have a lot of fun at their rival’s
expense, and recent history suggests that they are capable of doing
just that.

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