The Sarasota Millionaires don’t make it easy on themselves or their fans nervous systems. The team’s 36 point lead heading into the fourth quarter nearly evaporated in what would’ve been an epic collapse. But Frank Young’s interception with 1:06 remaining in the game ensured the Millionaires 42-34 win over the Bay Area Pirates in the UFF Wild Card game at Booker High School Saturday night.
Millionaire’s running back Mike Ford put together his best game of the season, topping his 122 yard rushing performance on April 14 against the Pirates in New Port Richey, with 151 yards on 22 carries, 3 touchdowns and a pair of 2 point conversions Saturday night.
“Today I was hitting the hole hard and I felt good”, said Mike Ford. “Part of ‘Ford Tough’, that’s my job.”
Ford opened the Millionaires scoring with a 6 yard run for a touchdown on Sarasota’s first possession of the game, tallying 59 of the scoring drive’s 72 yards. The “Moneymen” led 6-0 four minutes into the first quarter.
The Pirates tied the game at 6-6 after Frankie Solomon intercepted a Mario Davis pass and returned it to the Millionaires 10 yard line. Two plays later, Brian Koesling fired a quick pass to Solomon in the end zone from 6 yards out. The 2 pointer was no good.
The Millionaires engineered their best second quarter of the season, scoring 4 touchdowns, including two more from Mike Ford, to build a 36-6 lead at halftime. Marvin “Mo” Harris added a defensive touchdown with a 34 yard interception return. Mario Davis tossed a touchdown pass to Germaine Green with 25 seconds left in the half.
Willie Phelps scored on a 7 yard run with 4:02 remaining in the third quarter, lifting the Millionaires to what seemed like an insurmountable 42-6 lead at the time.
Trailing by 36 points, the Pirates showed frustration on their sideline, but did not give up. Quarterback Brian Koesling threw 4 touchdown passes in the fourth quarter, 3 to Gene Welch and one to Troy Thaxton to pull Bay Area to within 8 points. Koesling would finish the game 10-35 for 164 yards with 5 TD’s and 4 interceptions.
The Pirates had the ball at midfield with 1:31 left in the fourth quarter and a chance to tie the game but the Millionaires “Blackout” defense held on for the win to advance to next Saturday’s (May 11) divisional playoff game against the Broward County Cowboys in Ft. Lauderdale.
“It got a little hairy. We were trying to play everybody… give them some experience”, Millionaires Head Coach Ernest Givins said. “I told them we’re a team. We’re going to live together; we’re going to die together. Whatever the results, that’s the results, but we pulled it out.”
The Millionaires will have an opportunity to avenge its 24-8 home loss on March 16 to the Cowboys. Kickoff time to be determined.
“We lost to a tough team”, remarked Givins on the Cowboys. “They’re a well-coached ball club. We’re going to maintain what we’ve been maintaining, establish what we need to establish and come out victorious. It’s going to be a good ball game.”
Interviews with Ernest Givins and Mike Ford are posted to this article.
Follow me at twitter.com@sarasotaradio.