WEST PITTSTON – For pure shock value, Coughlin’s Vincent Todd had the more startling performance Friday night.
Brian Miles went for lasting impact.
Miles ran for 194 yards and four touchdowns while also leading the Wyoming Area defense with an effort that easily overcame Todd’s two early touchdowns while leading the unbeaten Warriors to a 38-14 Wyoming Valley Class 4A Division victory over the Crusaders at Jake Sobeski Stadium.
“I was feeling very confident,” said Miles, who scored on four straight possessions in a 19-minute stretch to turn a 14-0 deficit late in the first quarter into a 28-14 lead early in the third. “My linemen were opening great holes.
“I was just running hard, trying to do the best I could for my team.”
Running hard was the key.
Miles was able to punch in a pair of 1-yard touchdowns down by the goal line. He added a 16-yard touchdown for his last score, but his longest run was as much about power as speed.
After bouncing off one tackler, Miles ran over another on the 61-yard touchdown run off right tackle 1:02 into the second quarter to force a 14-14 tie and officially counter Todd’s blazing start.
The Coughlin junior receiver/wingback/Wildcat quarterback had returned the opening kickoff 82 yards and taken his first carry 66 yards. Before the first Wyoming Area defender was able to touch Todd, the Crusaders had a 14-0 lead just 3:20 into the game.
Even with a huge Coughlin line looking strong early, coach Randy Spencer and his Warriors took a very patient approach, built around Miles’ running, to recover.
“Brian Miles had a huge night and the guys up front did a heckuva job,” Spencer said.
Using a style that is establishing him as one of District 2’s most productive runners – he has 456 yards and 9 touchdowns rushing in 4 games – Miles brought the Warriors back.
“I feel like I’m running downhill more,” Miles said. “I have more experience. I’ve been in the weight room a lot.
“I feel like I’m faster and stronger and that gives me more confidence running the ball.”
He also helped stop Coughlin from running the ball as effectively as it had early in the game. Miles finished as the leader of a defensive effort that limited the Crusaders to 1 first down and 26 yards total offense while the Warriors were breaking away in the second half.
Miles made seven tackles, including two for six yards in losses, and assisted on another.
James Eslick and freshman Corey Mruk each contributed four tackles, an assist and a fumble recovery. Eslick made one of his tackles for a six-yard loss and broke up a pass.
The Warriors improved to 4-0 by putting a strong effort together between winning a battle of unbeatens at legendary Crispin Field in Berwick last week and getting a shot at Scranton Prep, last year’s District 2 Class AAA champion, next week.
“You saw the explosiveness of Vincent Todd and the size of that football team,” Spencer said. “We were just fortunate to be able to come back offensively and defensively.
“Defensively, once we got squared away, we played pretty well up front and got decent support.”
The offense scored on six straight possessions.
P.J. Angeli went 5-for-9 for 70 yards passing and was the team’s second-leading rusher with 33 yards on 3 carries.
When Angeli left the game with leg cramps in the third quarter, Steve Homza moved to quarterback and went 3-for-5 for 68 yards.
Homza found Marc Anthony Minichello in the back of the end zone on a fourth-down desperation pass for a 29-yard touchdown and 35-14 lead, essentially finishing off the Crusaders with 1:35 left in the third quarter.
“You just throw it up and take a shot,” Spencer said. “You’re not going to punt the ball from there.
“It’s too long for a field goal, so get a couple receivers down there, throw it up and we have as good a shot as them.”
Brandon Charney, who also made all five of his extra points, hit a 29-yard field goal with 8:38 left to complete the scoring.