The562’s coverage of Millikan athletics in the 2022-23 school year is sponsored by Curtis Boyer.
This season has been full of distractions for Millikan as the Rams have forfeit games and played without their head coach, starting quarterback and star receiver multiple times this year.
The Homecoming and Senior Night game at Millikan on Friday night was no different for the Rams. A bevy of confusing calls by the referees just added the noise, but Millikan stayed focused and pulled away late to beat Compton 50-20.
“It’s been a crazy season, but It’s just about being a team and working together towards a common goal,” Millikan quarterback Myles Jackson said. “We have a really good group of guys and we’re one big family. That off the field (bonding) translates to on the field.”
Jackson put up one his best stat lines in an already impressive season as he completed 21 of his 30 passes for 450 yards, six touchdowns and an interception. His favorite target was Ryan Pellum who finished with nine catches for 245 yards and three touchdowns.
“It’s really hard but you just have to focus on the task at hand,” Pellum said of ignoring distractions. “That (comes from) chemistry we’ve built as a team.”
Millikan never trailed in the game, but only led 14-6 less than :30 before halftime when Jackson hit Pellum over the top for a 39-yard touchdown that put the Rams up 21-6 at the break. Compton pulled within one score again in the second half, but Millikan used big plays to clinch the victory.
It’s fair to say that a few referee decisions and long conferences between plays adversely impacted the flow and quality of the game.
“It was horrible and it’s not a secret,” Millikan coach Romeo Pellum said of the officiating. “It’s probably the worst officiated game that I’ve ever been a part of… I just told (my team) to let me deal with it and let me get the penalties. Let me talk to the refs. (My team) did a good job today of keeping their composure and keeping their heads in the game.”
Compton (4-4, 2-2) started brightly by recovering its own onside kick and quickly got into the Millikan red zone with Jeremiah Hall and Erick Barrios carrying the ball out of the classic double wing formation. However, Compton fumbled inside the 5-yard line.
Millikan (3-5, 3-2) marched right back down the field, and after Jackson hit Pellum for a 41-yard gain he found Jordan Anderson for a 12-yard touchdown and a 7-0 lead.
Again Compton ran the ball for a seven-minute, 11-play drive led by quarterback John John Bledsoe. However, Compton was forced into a turnover on downs after failing to punch it in with 1st and goal from the nine-yard line.
Compton had 106 yards on its first 16 carries of the game, and had 209 yards on 25 carries for the rest of the game. Barrios finished with 254 all-purpose yards to lead Compton. Bledsoe had almost 200 all-purpose yards.
“I thought our guys gave all their had and I’m impressed with their resilience not having (starting quarterback Aava Lilomaiava who is out injured),” Compton coach Calvin Bryant said. “You’ve got to give Millikan hats off because they made big plays when they had to. They're a good team. I'm proud of my guy who really stepped up."
Millikan overcame a few mistakes and penalties in the second quarter, and Jackson hit Matt Martinez for a 12-yard touchdown with a little less than three minutes before halftime to make it 14-0.
It only took Compton four plays to answer the score as Bledsoe found Barrios on a 62-yard screen pass touchdown— but Jackson and Pellum hooked up for their first score 15 seconds later. Jackson stepped up in the pocket to buy some time and then put his deep ball over the middle perfectly into the back of the end zone. Pellum made a last-second adjustment on the ball and reached under the outstretched arms of the defender to haul in the touchdown.
“You have to dig deep and find it,” Pellum said of making big plays. “When the ball is up in the air you have to go get it.”
Compton only needed four plays in the second half to score again as Bledsoe broke free and went in to score from 20 yards out. That made the game 21-14, but that was as close as the visitors would get. Three plays into the ensuing Millikan drive was a 20-yard touchdown pass from Jackson to Gleo Miranda.
Barrios scored again for Compton on the next drive, and then Jackson and Pellum scored again on a 79-yard bomb over the top of the defense. There were four touchdowns in the first six minutes of the third quarter.
“It’s a really good feeling to throw to an explosive player like that,” Jackson said of he and Pellum. “We game planned to get him the ball in space. A lot of teams double team him and we’ve got to take advantage if they don’t. When I throw it to Ryan it’s something special.”
Millikan has all but clinched a CIF Southern Section playoff spot with a bye next week and their regular season finale against last-place Cabrillo.
Next week, Compton hosts Long Beach Poly at Compton College.
The CIF-SS playoffs start Nov. 4.