MILTON, Mass. -- The Rivers School remained undefeated and won a 69-40 shootout on Saturday night over Milton Academy, but the victory came with a few costs along the way.
Rivers standout Taariq Allen was injured in the third quarter after it seemed his sub-par night was looking up. Allen caught a quick slant from quarterback Shaq Sandiford and took the ball 59 yards into Milton’s red zone but at the end of the play, the receiver was brought down by several defenders and wound up on the ground clutching his right knee and writhing on the turf.
However the injury looked worse than it eventually was determined to be, and both he and head coach Rich Fisher maintained it was merely a bruised knee.
“He’s fine. He had a bone bruise but we just chose to keep him out,” Fisher said after the game. “Anytime you lose your heart and soul on defense you can see it affects you a little bit.
“Our motto is ‘We’re only as good as our weakest link’ and these players know we’ve got great players, but we’re a team.”
Either way, the game proceeded and although it lacked a major offensive weapon, Rivers was able to put up 36 points in the final two quarters.
After a one-sided first half in favor of Rivers, Red Wings tail back Benjamin Patrick and Milton Mustangs running back Benjamin Ticknor traded blows in an exciting second.
Patrick filled the void in the Red Wings’ offense and used his agility and speed to rack up 325 yards on 26 carries with a Rivers school-record six rushing touchdowns. He constantly found open space in the Milton defense, and was a workhorse for Rivers.
“He can carry the rock and carry the load,” said Fisher about his running back. “We knew this was going to be a physical football team and we knew we had to run the football but he’s our rock.”
“I just knew that I had to go strong,” said Patrick about his attitude when Allen left the game. “I knew that they would try and focus on me and bring it to me.”
Patrick was also shaken up in the second half and missed a series because of an apparent leg injury.
On the other side of the ball, the Rivers defense could not stop Milton’s Ticknor. The 6-foot-1 running back rushed the ball 21 times for 341 yards and four touchdowns.
Most of Ticknor’s yards came on a power run to the left side of Milton’s shotgun set. On that specific play, the running back reeled off touchdowns of 54 and 96 among others.
“We shot ourselves in the foot a ton in the first half,” said Ticknor about the offense. “We turned the ball over a lot and all their points were off of our turnovers and our mistakes, so we really didn’t get into a rhythm until the second half.”
“He did a great job,” Milton head coach Kevin MacDonald said. “He was not to be denied and tried to carry the team on his back, but unfortunately we just couldn’t stop Rivers.”
Sandiford was 8 of 16 passing, for 149 yards and two touchdowns. Five of those completions were to Allen -- who totaled 132 yards receiving and also returned a kickoff for a touchdown before leaving the game.
The Mustangs’ offense was again without starting quarterback and captain Charlie Storey who is still healing from an injury to a foot ligament earlier this season. Milton expects Storey back in the lineup against Belmont Hill next week.
Rivers 13 20 23 13 -- 69
Milton 0 8 20 12 -- 40
R - Patrick 2 run (Benjamin Marcus kick)
R - Patrick 46 run (kick blocked)
R - Sandiford 3 run (conversion good)
R - Robert Costa catch from Saniford (kick failed)
M - Ticknor 46 run (conversion good)
R - Patrick 56 run (conversion failed)
M - Ticknor 46 run (conversion good)
R - Allen 80 kick return (conversion good)
M - Ticknor 5 run (conversion failed)
R - Patrick 19 run (Marcus kick)
R - Patrick 72 run (kick failed)
M - Ticknor 96 run (conversion failed)
R - Patrick 2 run (conversion good)
M - Ari Sprilo 51 run (conversion failed)
R - Sandiford 1 run (Marcus kick)