WEST MILTON — If Milton-Union’s football team needed a reminder of its first-round playoff opponent, it was hanging right there in their locker room.
“We came in here on Monday and there was a sign on the locker room saying Blue Pride,” Bulldogs senior running back Trevor Luckenbill said referring to the Brookville Blue Devils. “It was all Brookville this week.”
“Honestly, every day. We heard something about (Brookville) every day,” said Milton senior lineman Zach Byrkett.
On Saturday, though, it was all about Milton in the Division IV, Region 16 quarterfinals. The Bulldogs avenged their only loss this season with a 28-7 win over the Blue Devils in front of about 3,500 spectators at Memorial Stadium. After surrendering a season-high 42 points to Brookville in a Week 7 loss (42-36), Milton yielded none through three quarters.
“We didn’t as much talk about the score as how we lost the first time around,” Milton coach Bret Pearce said of the regular-season meeting at Brookville. “We thought we weren’t as physical as we should have been that first game. We wanted to come out and hit, we wanted to be physical and we wanted to control the line of scrimmage.”
While Brookville (7-4) punted on its first four possessions and had the fifth stopped by an interception, Milton (10-1) was building a 14-0 lead. Luckenbill (26 carries for 233 yards) scored the first of his two touchdowns on a 19-yard run up the middle. The shifty back broke a couple tackles and kept his balance off a hit for the 7-0 lead. Milton went up 14-0 midway through the second quarter on quarterback Jon Mason’s 20-yard pass to Brendon Johnson, a precisely placed pass over his shoulder in the corner of the end zone.
“They did a good job limiting our big plays and they were able to make a few,” Brookville coach Mike Hetrick said. “That was the difference. In the first game there were so many big plays it was hard to keep track of them.”
Milton still had a few remaining Saturday. And Luckenbill’s 69-yard TD run topped them all. Luckenbill ran around end down the sideline, cut inside to juke on defender, cut back outside to keep another at bay and powered into the end zone.
“Their safety had great pursuit on me, I had to keep making moves,” Luckenbill said. “Finally that last move made it. It went by fast after making all those moves. I was tired. I was just looking for the end zone so I kept going.”
Brookville’s score came late in the third on Josh Doles’ 1-yard run. The Blue Devils had the momentum after stopping the Bulldogs next possession with Ryan Ekberg’s interception deep in the Blue Devils’ territory. But three plays later Milton’s Dean Harmon capped the scoring with his first varsity touchdown, an 11-yard interception for the 28-7 lead.
“My opportunity was there and I took it. I’ve been waiting for it four years now. After they scored 42 points on us we knew we had to step it up,” said Harmon, whose Bulldogs allowed just 70 points combined to its nine other opponents. “Play defense and play as a team.”
Milton held Brookville to 85 yards rushing and 161 overall, while racking up 304 on the ground and 342 overall themselves.
So what was the difference this time around?
“The first game we had not really faced any adversity in the season,” Pearce said. “When they got up on us we weren’t quite sure how to react. We’re a more mature team now. We’ve been through more now. I think we know what to do when put in tough situations.”
Milton plays Clinton-Massie, a 29-28 overtime winner against Cin. Wyoming, in the regional semis next Saturday.