Tre Sherwood started the winning drive with an interception, emergency quarterback Sam Patterson and Cam Barnier kept it going with a nail-biting 4th-and-5 conversion and Jacob Laware’s pass to Trent Cross with 10 seconds left finished the job.
A Colchester pass fell incomplete moments later, and the Yellowjackets had their second straight dramatic win, a shiny new trophy and a 3-0 record.
Playing before one of the biggest crowds to have graced Phil Hughes Memorial Field, the neighboring rivals from different divisions put on a 40-34 show that was as entertaining as it was even.
Laware completed 10 of 18 passes for 148 yards and five touchdowns, with one interception. Cross caught six of those passes for 83 yards and two scores, while Tre Sherwood caught just two passes but both went for scores, totaling 49 yards. Each added an interception, including a game-changer by Sherwood to set up the final score.
Seth Herrity ran 21 times for 187 yards and a touchdown, while Laware ran 13 times for 96 yards.
Barnier, who caught a short pass to keep Milton’s hopes alive late in the game, also had a big defensive play early when he brought down a Laker runner a foot short of the goal line. Two plays later, Reeve Dashnow pounced on a fumble.
After Milton opened with an 8-0 lead on the first of Laware’s five touchdown passes, a 31-yard play to Tre Sherwood, the Yellowjackets and Lakers combined for three touchdowns in the second quarter, three more in the third and four in the fourth — including a trio of go-ahead or tying scores in the last 2:21 alone.
Milton finished with a miniscule 461-443 edge in total yards, running 61 plays to the Lakers’ 59, and a 23:56 time of possession compared to 23:02 for the Division I visitors. CHS earned 24 first downs to 22 for D-II Milton, and each finished the night with four penalties for 40 yards and 1-for-3 fourth-down conversions.
That one fourth-down play for Milton, though, made all the difference.
Morin’s second touchdown run of the night pulled Colchester even with 9:53 left, and when the Lakers got the ball back on downs they marched up the field to take a 34-28 lead when Kevin Otto ran in from the three.
The Lakers had pulled within two points midway through the third quarter on Otto’s 12-yard run for the first of his two touchdowns, but Milton answered less than two minutes later when Trent Cross turned Laware’s short pass over the middle into a 36-yard touchdown for a 28-20 lead with 3:45 left in the third.
Murray set up a 1-yard run by CHS quarterback Morin, and Hoskins’ conversion run tied it up with 9:53 to play. Then the Laker defense got the ball back at their 22-yard line after stopping a fourth-and-6 play.
Hoskins did much of the damage on the go-ahead drive with runs for 16 and 19 yards before Otto scored from the three, making it 34-28 after the point-after kick failed.
The 11-play march burned 4 1/2 minutes off the clock, but 2:21 was all the Yellowjackets would end up needing.
“We just have to outlast teams for four quarters, because we don’t have enough depth and so many kids are going both ways,” Provost said.
A 20-yard kick return by Sherwood provided good field position and an unsportsmanlike conduct call turned that into a great spot for Milton, which set up at the Laker 48. But two incompletions and a 5-yard run by Herrity left the Yellowjackets facing a fourth-and-5 with the game on the line and the remaining time already down to 1:21. Worse, Laware was hurt on the play and because officials stopped the clock he had to come off the field for the crucial play.
Patterson took over behind center, rolling to his left as Sherwood raced up the sideline. That drew every Laker defender down the field and left an opening for Barnier coming out of the backfield. Barnier bobbled the pass but reached up to control it while staying just in bounds, picking up eight huge yards for a fresh set of downs at the Colchester 35. Laware connected again with Cross for 20 yards on first down, and on the next play hit Herrity on a 15-yard touchdown to tie it up with 1:03 left.
Colchester denied the 2-point conversion attempt, getting the ball back at the 47 on a night when it appeared the last team to score would win.
Sherwood immediately changed that outlook, leaping in front of a Laker receiver for an interception on the first play from scrimmage. The spring track star almost turned that play into the winning score, but was brought down at the 20 after a 45-yard runback as the clock ticked down to 33 seconds.
Two 9-yard runs by Herrity and two timeouts put the ball at the 2-yard line with 21 seconds to play. On first-and-goal, Cross cut in from the left side and found an opening a yard into the end zone, pulling in Laware’s pass for the score with 10 seconds remaining.
One short kick return and one incomplete pass later, Milton was 3-0.