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Football Millikan

Football: Millikan Falls Short Against Upland

The562’s coverage of Millikan athletics in the 2023-24 school year is sponsored by Curtis Boyer.

Millikan’s preseason schedule was designed to test the Rams week in and week out. On Friday night at DeHaven Stadium, Millikan hosted last year’s CIF-SS Division 3 finalists from Upland High in an intriguing showdown.

The visiting Highlanders played well on the road, controlling possession and emerging with a 28-16 win in front of an energized Millikan crowd.

Upland ran the ball effectively throughout the game, totaling 215 yards on 40 rushing attempts, averaging 5.4 yards per carry. Trent Dailey led the way with 134 yards on 20 carries including a 15-yard TD run early in the fourth quarter to make it 28-10 Highlanders.

“We’ve gotta get better if we want to compete at a higher level, we have to do a better job,” said Millikan head coach Romeo Pellum. “We have to do a better job as coaches preparing the kids, and  I’ll take that on me. I have to do a better job of making sure that coaches are prepared and making sure the kids are prepared. I don’t take anything from Upland, they’re a really good football team. They had a great game plan, they tried to do clock management and they did a really good job of it.”

The Millikan offense didn’t see much of the ball in the first half, as the Rams’ offense ran just 15 plays compared to 37 for the Highlanders. Upland’s time of possession was an impressive 18:37 of the opening 24 minutes, leaving the Rams with just 5:23 on offense.

“They did a really good job of keeping our offense off the field,” Pellum added. “Whenever our offense is on the field, it’s a possibility that they’re going to score, so hats off to them. Coach Thomas does a great job, and they did a good job tonight.”

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A forced fumble by Loyall Mouzon ended Upland’s first possession as Greg McClendon fell on it for the takeaway, but the Highlanders would hit pay dirt on their next drive as QB Noah Sandoval (13/18, 178 yards, 2 TD) hit Tuisapunaoa Ho-Ching for a 12-yard TD.

Millikan responded on their next possession, with QB JP Mialovski scoring on the first play of the second quarter. He faked a handoff and kept the ball around the left side, racing 38 yards for the tying score.

Upland took the lead back with a TD pass from Sandoval to Osric Randolph, Jr. which gave the Highlanders a 14-7 lead at halftime.

The Rams got the ball first in the third quarter and went on an impressive 16-play scoring drive. Unfortunately for Millikan, they had to settle for a 38-yard field goal from Jayden Icasiano to make it a 14-10 Upland lead. That’s as close as the Rams would get.

Upland would reach the end zone on their next two possessions, with Sandoval hitting Justin Benson for a 15-yard TD strike and Dailey putting the game away with his TD scamper. Sandoval was an important playmaker for the Highlanders, making several smart plays with his arm and his feet to keep Upland drives alive.

The Rams were able to score in the final minute as Mialovski linked up with Loyall Mouzon on fourth down for a 17-yard score. Ryan Pellum was Mialovski’s preferred target on Friday night as he saw 14 targets, ultimately hauling in nine passes for 70 yards.

For Millikan, the ground game struggled to get activated despite the arrival of Xavier Jones into the backfield. The Rams ran it four times in the first half (including Mialovski’s TD run) and then were forced to chase the game through the air after halftime.

Next up for the Rams is Moore League play as they host Wilson next Friday.

VIDEO: Millikan vs. Upland, Football
PHOTOS: Millikan vs. Upland, Football
Tyler Hendrickson
Tyler Hendrickson was born and raised in Long Beach, and started covering sports in his hometown in 2010. After five years as a sportswriter, Tyler joined the athletic department at Long Beach State University in 2015. He spent more than four years in the athletic communications department, working primarily with the Dirtbags baseball program. Tyler also co-authored of The History of Long Beach Poly: Scholars & Champions.