Hollis Brookline fends off Milford in football opener

HOLLIS – Hollis Brookline owned the first quarter, and Milford High dominated the second.

The Cavaliers simply survived the second half – barely – rallying from a 21-13 deficit to hold off feisty Milford, 28-21, in Friday night’s season opener.

“I was nervous. I was scared (at halftime),” said HB quarterback Sander Wimmer, who tossed a pair of TD passes in the final 12-plus minutes to cap an absolute monster of a junior debut. “They were running all over us. I wasn’t sure we’d ever stop them. But our D-linemen, they stepped up big time in the second half. I’m really proud of them. People tend to overlook our strength. Mentally, we’re always there. We never think we’re out of it.”

Through nearly three full quarters the Milford plan to ground and pound was working magnificently.

The Spartans closed the second quarter on a 12-play, eight-minute, 66-yard march that gave them a 14-13 advantage when QB Gavin Urda rolled in on a 3-yard keeper.

Milford ate up the bulk of the third too, this time moving 70 yards on a dozen plays to push it 21-13, with fullback Junior Ughu bulling in from the four.

But Wimmer and his stable of big-play receivers was barely getting started.

“My receivers, I love them,” said the quarterback. ”

You’ve got (captain Mike) Gillespie making diving catches on balls I didn’t think he could reach. And you’ve got Quinten (Wimmer) jumping over guys to make these amazing catches. They were unbelievable.”

Milford just couldn’t get off the field when it needed to defensively.

Sander hit Quinten for 50 on a third-and-long then clicked with his twin for a 11-yard TD. The quarterback then knotted things at 21-21 with an all-heart keeper for two points with 22 seconds left in the third.

They were by no means done.

On fourth and 19 from the Spartan 40, Sander saw single coverage outside and heaved. Quinten did the rest, outleaping the defender and pulling in a highlight reel TD for the decisive score.

“We have to clean some things up. We made a lot of offensive mistakes, and it hurt us,” said Spartan coach Keith Jones. “We killed drives twice with penalties. We’re not a third-and-7 team, we’re a third-and-3 team.”

Milford just couldn’t answer. Five Urda runs and an Ughu six-yard plunge moved the Spartans to the HB 42, but things stalled.

Needing one first down to ice it, inside the final four minutes, Hollis found a way, and that way was a season tone-setter from Sander on fourth-and-3.from the Milford 37.

Stopped in the backfield, Wimmer spun out and carried a pair of Spartans for 9 yards to lock down the win and make the decision not to punt from coach Chris Lones look nothing short of brilliant.

Sander finished the night 14 of 21 for 326 yards and three scores. His opening TD of the year was 59 yards to Connor Zorn.

Gillespie caught five passes for 119 yards and Quinten grabbed four for 109. Brandon Iodice chipped in a 13-yard first quarter TD run that made it 13-0 HB early.

Milford had a ton to be positive about, mainly on the ground where Urda amassed 90 yards on 14 carries and Ughu had 22 for 110.