Fresh off a huge victory on the road and playing in its homecoming game, Huron Valley Milford was shut out by Howell and is on the verge of being locked out of the state playoffs.
The Mavericks fell to the Highlanders, 17-0, on Friday, Sept. 28 in a matchup of two Kensington Lakes Activities Association (KLAA) West Division teams with 2-3 records desperate to save their seasons.
“Our kids played great on defense, but we made critical mistakes in the red zone,” Milford Head Coach Pat Fox said. “Howell played well and we’ll focus on next week.”
Early on it appeared as if it would be Milford’s night as Anthony Dawson intercepted Howell quarterback Johnny Cheshire on the second play of the game, giving the Mavericks the ball at their own 47-yard line.
Milford (2-4 overall, 1-3 in the KLAA West) would advance to the Howell 25-yard line before Kyle Monagle’s 30-yard field goal attempt was partially blocked by John Brennan as it sailed wide left.
The Mavs then caught a break near the end of the first quarter when they punted the ball away in their own territory and it was mishandled by a Howell player. Milford recovered the ball at the Howell 41-yard line.
Milford then fought its way to the Howell 1-yard line, but quarterback Alex Larson fumbled the ball and Howell’s Brennan recovered it at his own 3-yard line, keeping the game scoreless in the second quarter.
The Highlanders (3-3, 2-2 in the KLAA West) would finally break the ice as Cheshire threw a 14-yard touchdown strike to Tyler Johnson with 5:40 left in the first half to cap a 7-play, 97-yard drive.
Milford would punt on its next two drives while its defense forced a Howell turnover on downs at the Milford 34-yard line to keep the score 7-0 at halftime.
The third quarter was scoreless as each team punted twice and Milford turned the ball over on downs at the Howell 44-yard line.
It was then that Highlanders’ running back Vincent Patritto would take over as he started to get the majority of the carries and started to wear down the Milford defense.
Patritto would eventually score on a 3-yard touchdown run with 11:05 left in the fourth to give Howell a 14-0 lead. He had eight carries on the 10-play, 56-yard scoring drive.
Darren Ford would later add a 27-yard field goal for Howell as the Highlanders’ defense did its part by holding Milford to 138 yards of total offense on the night.
Larson completed just 4-of-21 passes for 48 yards and an interception while rushing for 42 yards on 17 carries.
Patritto finished with 105 yards on 24 carries for Howell, including 85 yards in the second half, while Cheshire completed 6-of-13 passes for 142 yards, a touchdown and an interception.
Scott Wetzel also had two catches for 87 yards for Howell while Jordan Leyder had five total tackles on defense.
Darrion Spencer had eight total tackles for Milford while Daniel Wallace had seven tackles and Cameron Bell had six.
Milford will now need to win its final three games and hope for a shot at qualifying for the state playoffs on playoff points.
The Mavs will wrap up their division schedule on Friday, Oct. 5 with a trip to Pinckney to face the Pirates before hosting a KLAA crossover game against a North Division opponent on Friday, Oct. 12 and playing on the road in the annual rivalry game against Huron Valley Lakeland on Oct. 19 to finish the regular season.