Milford shocks Fairfield for first ever playoff win 39-35

MILFORD, Ohio – The Milford Eagles made a miraculous comeback scoring 32 unanswered points, winning its first ever playoff game 39-35 over the Fairfield Indians at Eagles Stadium. 

Fairfield lead 21-7 at halftime and looked dominate during the later part of the first half. The Indians added two more touchdowns in the first 19 seconds of the third quarter taking a 35-7 advantage.

Hajiere Pitts returned the second half opening kickoff 86 yards down to the 1-yard line for Fairfield. Quarterback Jeff Tyus scored easily from the one-yard line for a touchdown.  

One the first play of the ensuing drive, Milford quarterback Hunter Johnson was intercepted by Fairfield’s Corey Smith. As Smith ran for a pick-six, the ball was stripped from him and it squirted into the end zone. Smith’s teammate Elijah Hatfield fell on the ball for a touchdown giving Fairfield a 35-7 lead.

Milford was left for dead on a night that most people thought the it should just be happy to be there. The Eagles were hosting its first ever home playoff game in just its third ever post season appearance. 

The Eagles put together a long drive to start chipping away at the Fairfield lead. Camreron Kells, who lead the Eastern Cincinnati Conference in rushing and was held to just 13 yards rushing in the first half, scored on one-yard run with 8:43 left in the third quarter.

That score gave the high-powered Milford offense the confidence it needed and plenty of time to work with for the historical comeback.

Click here: Postgame interview with Milford Head Coach Tom Grippa

Johnson followed with a 23-yard touchdown pass to Dylan Hughes and after Grace Erlte kicked the extra point the deficit was narrowed to 35-21. 

Hughes was a big part of the Milford second half explosion catching six passes for a team-high 143 yards.

Kells, who finished with 107 yards rushing on 24 carries, made it a one score game at 35-27 with a three-yard scoring run.

Needing a touchdown and a two-point conversion, Hughes scored again on a 35-yard TD from Johnson. However, the conversion failed and Fairfield was holding on for dear life leading 35-33 with 4:07.

The Milford defense forced a turnover when Dustin Loudermilk intercepted a pass with 3:21 left in the game. This setup Kells to score his third touchdown of the half, making the comeback complete as Milford had a 39-35 lead with 1:28 left in the game.

Fairfield had plenty of time to squash Milford’s dream comeback but Jake Ayler, who had a team-high seven receptions on offense for the Eagles, intercepted a pass that killed Fairfield’s drive putting the game away.

The heart breaking loss for Fairfield was its third consecutive defeat to the end the season.

The Indians offense got off to a big start on its first possession of the game. Tyus connected on a 15-yard pass play to Caleb Sexton. That was followed a 38-yard pass from Tyus to running back JuTahn McClain.

McClain was brought down at the four-yard line but came off the field with what appeared to be an injured hand. McClain, who finished the regular season with 31 total touchdowns, did not return to the game until the fourth quarter wearing a cast on his wrist.

Fairfield needed someone to step up in McClain’s absence. Peyton Brown was the first to do so as he scored on the next play after McClain went out with a 4-yard touchdown run for the game’s first score.

The high powered Milford offense went on a long drive during the ensuing possession. Johnson threw a quick slant pass to Ayler who raced 35 yards setting up 1st-and-goal for the Eagles.

On fourth down from the three-yard line, Johnson found his tight end Conner Foster all alone in the end zone tying the score 7-7.

Fairfield’s offense struggled at first without McClain on the field. The Indians took the lead over again on a screen pass that Brown converted into a 45-yard touchdown play.

After Milford went three-and-out, Fairfield took advantage of misfortune and confusion. Milford’s Max Ward appeared to come up with an interception but the officials ruled correctly that he had picked the ball off the turf.

That was followed by a bizarre exchange where the officials called a penalty and marked off the infraction against the wrong team. Once the error was corrected, Milford looked confused and Fairfield took advantage. 

The Indians had the ball 4th-and-3 at the Milford 44-yard line when Erick All, a University of Michigan commit, setup in punt formation. All faked the punt and took off running, breaking several tackles rumbling his way into the end zone for a 21-7 advantage.

With the victory, Milford advances to the Division I, Region 4 semifinal round against #1 seed Colerain. 

Fairfield 7-14-14-0 – 35
Milford 7-0-14-18 – 39

F – Peyton Brown 4-yard TD run (Elgin Phillips kick)
M – Connor Foster 3-yard TD catch from Hunter Johnson (Grace Ertle kick)
F – Peyton Brown 45-yard TD catch from Jeff Tyus (Elgin Phillips kick)
F – Erick All 44-yard TD run on a fake punt (Elgin Phillips kick)
F – Jeff Tyus 1-yard TD run (Elgin Phillips kick)
F – Elijah Hatfield fumble recovery in the end zone (Elgin Phillips kick)
M – Cameron Kells 1-yard TD run (Grace Ertle kick)
M – Dylan Hughes 23-yard TD catch from Hunter Johnson (Grace Ertle kick)
M – Cameron Kells 3-yard TD run (kick failed)
M – Dylan Hughes 35-yard TD catch from Hunter Johnson (rush failed)
M – Cameron Kells 1-yard TD run (pass failed)

RECORDS: Fairfield (7-4); Milford (9-2)
NEXT WEEK: #4 Milford vs. #1 Colerain (11-0)

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