Phoenix - The Miami football team began the 2020 season on Thursday night with a 39-0 shutout win over Heritage Academy Laveen in Phoenix.
Miami struggled offensively in the first half, but the Vandals did take a 12-0 lead into halftime. Two touchdown passes from quarterback Ryan Powell to wide receiver Gabe Escobedo accounted for Miami’s first-half scoring. The Vandals turned the game into a rout with four second-half touchdowns.
“It felt great to win, but we have a lot to improve on, and a lot to learn,” said running back Justin Cook. “We all agree that we can do a lot better and play at a much higher level than we did Thursday night.”
For the game, Powell completed eight of 18 passes for 177 yards, four touchdowns and one interception. Escobedo finished with four catches for 73 yards and three touchdowns. Jaime Pena added three receptions for 77 yards and a touchdown.
On the ground, Cook rushed for 104 yards, while Larenz Combs added 25 rushing yards and two touchdowns.
“We started out real slow offensively, and we have to fix our timing with our pass routes,” Miami coach Brandon Powell said. “The offensive line dominated most of the night, so we need to just keep improving in our run game.”
Defensively, the Vandals pitched a shutout as they held Heritage to 191 yards of offense. Brayden Kauers had a team-high four solo tackles, while Angel Pena had a quarterback sack, and Jaime Pena recovered a fumble. Jaycob Goss contributed two passes defensed.
“Defensively we showed our youth by aligning wrong throughout the night, but our speed and ability to get to the ball helped to keep Heritage from scoring,” Powell said.
The Vandals face a tough test Friday night when they play at Benson, which has qualified for the state playoffs three consecutive seasons.
“We have to get the passing game fixed to complement the run game this week, or we are in trouble,” Powell said. “Defensively this week will be assignment football, so the team will need to be extra focused.”
The Vandals will play at Benson on Friday, Oct. 9 at 7 p.m.