MILTON — As a few in the sparse crowd at Alumni Stadium on Saturday morning were chanting “Shock the World,” it looked for a time as though, perhaps, Milton might do just that.
Entering the 9 a.m. contest as big underdogs, Milton scored on a 68-yard pass on the game’s first play, then intercepted a pass on Shamokin’s first play.
Unfortunately for the home team and its fans, the heavily-favored Indians settled in and took control with 54 consecutive points to grab a 54-14 win in the second meeting of the year between the two Heartland Athletic Conference-Division I foes.
The win — coupled with Selinsgrove’s victory over District 6 foe Central Mountain on Friday night — sets up a rare situation where the Indians and Seals will play one another three times this season, including both of the next two weeks. The winner of next Friday’s contest at Shamokin will get the No. 2 seed and home field for the District 4 Class 4A semifinals behind No. 1 Jersey Shore.
After the shaky start, the Indians rode quarterback Brett Nye’s arm to the tune of 204 yards and four touchdowns.
In a game that kicked off amid dense fog and the temperature struggling to get above 32 degrees, Milton quarterback Wade Young and wide receiver Xzavier Minium — a pair of sophomores — hooked up on a short pass, and the 6-foot-1 wide receiver ran away from the defenders for a 68-yard touchdown with only eight seconds gone in the game. The PAT was blocked.
Milton got the ball back one play later when a Nye pass bounced off the hands of junior fullback Aaron Frasch and into the hands of Young, playing cornerback.
Just like that, Milton (0-5) was 68 yards away from taking a two-score lead on a team that had beaten the Black Panthers 37-6 a month prior.
The Indians adjusted and forced a three-and-out, then drove 69 yards on nine plays with junior halfback Tyler Whary going around the right side untouched for a 15-yard TD. Junior Carson Ososkie hit the PAT for a 7-6 lead with 5 minutes left in the first quarter, a lead Shamokin (4-2) would not relinquish. Whary replaced senior Ian Paul as an injury relegated him to defense only.
The Indians continued to score, starting with a 47-yard TD pass from Nye to sophomore wide receiver Ryder Zulkowski.
“That was a beautiful ball by Brett,” said Zulkowski, who also intercepted a pass. “The line did everything; all I did was run. I thank all 10 other people on that play. If it wasn’t for them, it never happened.”
Nye said he knew the play was going to be a touchdown.
“I know anytime he has the ball in his hands, he is a playmaker, and he will score,” Nye said. “I trusted him with that. I just have to make my throw, and he will score.’’
As for Nye, he was just getting started.
The 5-foot-11, 160-pound quarterback hooked up with senior wide receiver Billy Delbaugh on three TD passes in the second quarter on throws of 83, 6 and 86 to blow the game open.
“It’s not the way you want to start out, but we responded with a nice long methodical drive afterward and the big plays hit after that, so I’m proud of the guys for the way they responded,” Shamokin coach Henry Hynoski said. “It’s not easy getting to (Kemp Memorial Stadium) at 6:30 in the morning to get here for a game. Our guys did a great job.”
Milton coach Phil Davis was pleased with the start and the finish, but noted that they missed their opportunities in between.
“We didn’t capitalize on our opportunities and they did,” he said. “They’re clicking on all cylinders and we’re not.”
Nevertheless, he said he was proud of the effort, and was happy with the performance of Young at quarterback. Saturday’s start was only his second after replacing injured senior Ethan Rowe.
Shamokin made some defensive changes after Milton’s early touchdown, including a switch to a cover-two, and immediately forced a three-and-out.
“We have a lot of options we can go to and our guys are quick to recognize formations,” Hynoski said.
“They shocked us. I was like, ‘Now we’ve just got to wake up and show them what we can do because I didn’t wake up at 6 o’clock in the morning to lose,’” Zulkowski said. “I don’t like it when teams score on me or on my defense. I like when my defense makes plays, and that’s what our defense did today (with four interceptions).
With the reserves on the field the Indians added two more scores: a Corey Adams 45-yard interception return and a 34-yard run by Wade Alleman.
Milton got on the board one last time on a 45-yard pass from Kaden Wagner to Noah Smith, and a two-point conversion pass from Wagner to Mason Rowe.
SHAMOKIN 54, MILTON 14
Milton (0-5)`6`0`0`8 — 14
Shamokin (4-2)`13`21`6`14 — 54
M-Xzavier Minium 68 pass from Wade Young (kick blocked)
S-Tyler Whary 15 run (Carson Ososkie kick)
S-Ryder Zulkowski 47 pass from Brett Nye (kick failed)
S-Billy Delbaugh 83 pass from Nye (kick failed)
S-Delbaugh 6 pass from Nye (Madden run)
S-Delbaugh 86 pass from Nye (Ososkie kick)
S-Aaron Frasch 14 run (kick blocked)
S-Corey Adams 45 interception return (Ososkie kick)
S-Wade Alleman 34 run (Ososkie kick)
M-Noah Smith 45 pass from Kaden Wagner (Mason Rowe pass from Wagner)
RUSHING — Shamokin: Madden 18-105; Frasch 11-59, TD; Alleman 1-34, TD; Whary 4-13, TD; Collin Bozza 1-8; Karmyne Cole 2-2; team 1-(-1). Milton: Jason Valladares 14-25; Christopher Aviles-Robles 4-23; Luke Goodwin 4-23; Ashton Canelo 5-9; Nijel Hunter 1-(-2); Young 2-(-20).
PASSING — Shamokin: Nye 4-7-1, for 204 yards, 4 TDs; Bozza 0-1-1. Milton: Young 9-22-2, for 89 yards, TD; Wagner 1-2-0, for 45 yards, TD.
RECEIVING — Shamokin: Delbaugh 3-157, 3 TDs; Zulkowski 1-47, TD. Milton: Minium 4-71, TD; Canelo 3-6; Dylan Reiff 2-12; Noah Smith 1-45, TD.