ARTICLE & VIDEO BY TYLER HENDRICKSON
The Millikan defense was repeatedly put to the test during Friday night’s season opener at Carson, and each time the Rams were able to rise to the occasion and preserve a 7-3 victory on the road.
“If we keep playing defense like that and clean up the offense, we’re going to do some special things this year,” said Millikan head coach Justin Utupo after the win.
Carson ran 14 of its 18 plays in the first quarter inside Millikan territory, but could not break through against a stingy Rams defense. The Colts would eventually put points on the board in the second quarter with a 36-yard field goal, but that’s all they would get.
Millikan only had 18 yards from scrimmage in the first half, but had a golden opportunity to score as Qu’Juan Campbell returned a kickoff to the Carson 22-yard line. On the next play, Rams quarterback Qeanu Campbell-Caldwell hit Dylan Davis for a 15-yard gain along the left side, but Davis fumbled the ball as defenders converged on him, and the Rams remained scoreless into the half.
On the opening drive after intermission, Millikan went 61 yards on 11 plays, as Campbell-Caldwell went 5/6 for 35 yards on the drive to lead his team down the field. Facing 4th & goal at the two, the Rams kept the ball in the hands of their junior quarterback as Campbell-Caldwell went back to Davis for a two-yard touchdown to give Millikan a lead they would not relinquish.
“We talk about having a short memory,” said Utupo of Davis’ touchdown following his first-half fumble. “After that fumble he didn’t hang his head, he didn’t pout. He comes back, runs a great route and scores the go-ahead touchdown.”
The defense was able to make the touchdown stand, getting a pair of late stops on Carson drives into the red zone. The Colts had 1st & goal at the Millikan one-yard line, and after a pair of goal line stops, a bad snap left the door open for linebacker Nik Lombardi to rush into the backfield and make the recovery, picking up the third fumble recovery on the day for the Rams.
The secondary was also swarming, led by four pass breakups from De’Jon Van Hook and a couple more from Albert Fuller to close out the win. The Rams also played a clean opening game, committing just three penalties for 15 yards. Carson on the other hand had 13 penalties for 87 yards on the night. The Colts offense was able to move the ball, outgaining Millikan 304-57, but the Rams got the stops when they needed them to start the year with a win.
Millikan will look to keep things rolling next Friday at Gahr while Carson hosts Kamehameha Kapalama from Honolulu.