LOWER MERION — If Ray Gionta, Sal Oropollo or any other member of the coaching staff at Marple Newtown has trouble sleeping over the next few days, blame Harriton’s Miron Hayes.
The senior running back/defensive back had the kind of game that keeps coaches up at night.
Hayes scored three touchdowns, two rushing and one receiving, and threw for a TD as the Rams rallied from a 13-point deficit for a 27-19 win over the Tigers in Central League play.
“He gave us fits,’ Gionta said.
That may be the understatement of the season.
Hayes scored on runs of 53 and 48 yards and broke three tackles on a 66-yard TD reception to help the Rams (1-2, 1-1 Central) erase a 13-0, first-quarter deficit. He also threw a 24-yard TD pass to quarterback Matt Brannau on fourth-and-10 to cap a 15-play, 91-yard scoring drive. He also punted once for 36 yards.
If that wasn’t enough, Hayes picked off a Tommy Davis pass with less than a minute to play to officially put the Tigers out of their misery.
“We needed this badly,’ said Hayes, who wants to play football in college. “We didn’t want to go 0-3 and hopefully this will lead to more wins.’
It looked like the Rams were headed the 0-3 route when the Tigers (1-2, 1-1) jumped out to a 13-0 lead in the first quarter. Ross Binder scored on a nine-yard run, and A.J. Cunningham hauled in a 65-yard pass from Davis for a TD.
The Tigers only needed six plays to take that 13-0 lead.
Then Hayes took over. He amassed 253 all-purpose yards and 233 yards of total offense. He ran six times for 108 yards, caught three passes for 101 yards, returned three kickoffs for 44 yards was 1-for-1 as a passer with the 24-yard score.
He was at his best in open space.
“The more space, the more deadly,’ Hayes said.
Hayes wasn’t the only reason the Tigers had looks of frustration as they walked out of Harriton Stadium. Marple missed two extra points and squandered two huge opportunities after Harriton turnovers that could have negated the performance by Hayes.
The Tigers had a chance to extend their 13-0 lead when Tom Perpiglia picked up a Hayes fumble and returned it 60 yards to the Harriton 15-yard line. Marple drove to the seven-yard line, but Binder was dropped for a two-yard loss and Davis’ fourth-down pass fell incomplete.
After Brian Rosborough took a Davis pass 46 yards to cut Harriton’s lead to 20-19, Marple received another huge break when defensive end Noah Turner batted and intercepted a Brannau pass and returned it to the Harriton 27. But again, the Tigers could not capitalize. Marple went four-and-out, and Hayes sealed the victory with his final touchdown and interception.
“We had opportunities,’ Gionta said. “We just made too many mistakes.’