Shaler ground game breaks out in win over Kiski Area

Friday, August 30, 2019 | 11:08 PM

A Shaler rushing attack that struggled in Week Zero made a statement in the Titans’ first Northern Conference game against Kiski Area.

Titans running back Jake Miller carried 13 times for 124 yards — the first 100-yard game of his career — and scored on a 1-yard run in a 23-6 victory over the Cavaliers on Friday night.

Shaler coach Jim Ryan challenged the offensive line all week to dominate the line of scrimmage. The Titans’ behemoths responded by paving the way for nearly 250 rushing yards.

“We needed to come in this week and fire off the ball,” Ryan said. “We also wanted our pass protection to be sound, especially against a team like Kiski Area that blitzes like crazy. We had to be prepared, and our offensive line did a good job against their blitz schemes in the run and the pass game.”

Shaler quarterback Darin Mizgorski followed a four-touchdown performance in Week Zero with 122 passing yards and 65 yards on the ground, including a 35-yard TD run for the Titans (1-1, 1-0).

The Titans’ 1-2 punch of Mizgorski and Miller also connected for a 70-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter that extended their lead to 20-0.

“That play really wasn’t supposed to go to me,” Miller said. “We saw a linebacker rollover to me pre-snap (for man coverage). I gave Darin a look. He gave me a look, and I just ran a go route. I was only supposed to run a 3-yard out, but since it was a linebacker we just knew what to do.”

Shaler’s defense held Kiski Area (1-1, 0-1) scoreless until the game’s final minute when Cavaliers running back Luke Lander scored on a 3-yard run. Lander finished with 15 carries and 98 rushing yards.

“I love our kids, and they played until the end and played hard,” Kiski Area coach Sam Albert said. “You also can’t make the mistakes we made early in the game against a team like Shaler.”

Kiski Area had other opportunities to score but failed on three trips into Shaler territory in the second quarter, including a first-and-goal from the 10.

“It’s just two bad snaps to set us back, but I don’t want to make excuses,” Albert said. “We didn’t play the way we usually play, but my hats off to Shaler. I can’t fault our effort. If we correct the mistakes, we’ll be fine.”

Ryan hopes Shaler’s first win of the season will boost the team’s camaraderie and confidence.

“This feels great, because we have really high expectations this season,” Ryan said. “It’s a little bit nerve-racking to anticipate that first win, but our guys have really started to mesh. They believe in one another, and that’s going to pay off big dividends by the end of the season.”

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