LEAVITTSBURG - LaBrae fullback Zach Miller pounds his way all over the field to clear the way for tailback Matt Szorady in hard-hitting power and isolation plays of the Vikings' offense.
On Friday, Miller got to taste a little glory himself when he caught a 5-yard touchdown pass that was the difference in LaBrae's 19-14 victory over visiting Campbell Memorial.
"Each week he blocks like that, and he's also an excellent runner," LaBrae coach Bill Bohren said. "And our offensive coordinator does a great job creating plays."
LaBrae running back Matt Szorady (22) moves up the field as Campbell Memorial defenders Sean Burnett (77) and Shamar Robbins (33) give chase in the first quarter Friday night. The Vikings beat the Red?Devils, 19-14, when quarterback Peyton?Aldridge threw a 5-yard touchdown pass to fullback Zach Miller.
The play devised for the game-winning score was especially deft. For the first time of the game, Miller lined up as a wing on the left, leaving Szorady as the only back. Miller motioned right, and quarterback Peyton Aldridge reversed out in a play-action "iso," but Miller slipped out of the backfield. The Campbell backers and defensive end sucked up on the play, and Aldridge floated a pass to the wide-open Miller in the right flat.
The Vikings (4-1, 2-0 All-American Conference, Blue Tier) were in position for the win because Campbell (3-2, 0-1) took its first lead of the game minutes earlier when it capped a 13-play drive with a stunning touchdown pass from Brandon Reyes to Anthony Rushton on fourth-and-16.
The drive survived two sacks by LaBrae defensive end Paul Zigmont, and a tackle-for-loss, and nearly died on the last play, but Reyes escaped pressure to find Rushton digging his way across the field to the right.
"We didn't start off very well tonight, but we showed heart getting the lead in the fourth quarter," Campbell coach Mickey Sikora said. "But we made a few mistakes and you can't do that when you're playing a team as well-coached as LaBrae."
One of those mistakes came on the following kickoff when a personal foul penalty was tacked on Szorady's impressive return. The mistake set up the Vikings on the Red Devils' 44 yard line.
LaBrae didn't need much help in the first quarter when Miller and the offensive line opened holes for Szorady, who carried the ball 11 times for 50 yards and scored two touchdowns in the first two posessions. He had holes, but his elusiveness and agility made the Red Devils miss tackles on various types of running plays.
"He's a great, competitive player, and what keeps him from being a big D1 running back is the fact that he's five-foot-nine 165 pounds," Bohren said. "If he was 6-2, he would play anywhere in the country - he's a good football player."
Most of Szorady's yards came from power and isolation plays, but he even ripped off an 18-yard run on a toss on the game's first drive.
Seconds after he scored his first touchdown, he stepped in front of Rushton's dig pattern and picked off Reyes' pass. Two plays later, he scored his second touchdown.
The game settled into a physical affair on both sides because Campbell closed ranks on its wide-open attack so tailback Ja'les Hughes could show his talent. The back, who Bohren said was the best his team would face this year, ran for 116 yards. He helped the Red Devils get on the board in the opening minutes of the second half by carrying the ball 8 out of Campbell's 11 plays on the drive.
Reyes then put the Red Devils on the board when he lofted a touchdown pass to Rushton, who drifted to the right corner of the end zone on a little fade pattern.