Updated: September 7, 2013 at 10:19 pm
Austin Micci isn't the type of guy to bug his coach for playing time. The Coronado junior, however, certainly made good use of his touches on offense Saturday.
Micci converted his four carries into 112 yards and two long touchdown runs and later capped the scoring with an interception return, as the Cougars overcame a four-turnover performance to down Harrison 35-7 at Garry Berry Stadium.
While Isaiah Duvall gashed the Harrison defense for 110 yards, mainly between the tackles, Micci provided the speedy change-up that further energized Coronado, 3-0 for the first time in recent memory.
"We're a two-headed monster," Micci said. "We give him (Isaiah) the ball three or four times in a row, then they feed me, and the defense isn't expecting it. All I can do is whatever is best for the team. I just tell the coaches I'm ready to go when they need me."
They might have to lean on that impressive running game a little more after learning that senior wide receiver Antwan Outlaw suffered a separated right shoulder and could be lost for the season.
Coronado amassed 423 yards of total offense, including 333 on the ground. But for the second week in a row, costly turnovers put the Cougars in the red zone. Coronado lost the football four times inside the Harrison 5-yard line on three fumbles and an interception.
It happened three times in the previous game at The Classical Academy on Aug. 29.
"There are definitely things we have to improve on," second-year Cougars coach Bobby Lizarraga said. "Especially ball security."
Duvall capped the game's initial drive with a 14-yard run, cutting back and making multiple defenders miss to give Coronado a 7-0 lead with 9:55 left in the first quarter. Following an exchange of possessions, the Cougars once again featured Duvall, a junior, to soften up the Harrison (0-2) front line.
Then, on third-and-3 from the Harrison 41, Coronado quarterback Joah Smith sprinted to his right on an option rollout. At the last second, the senior pitched to Micci, who found plenty of open space on his first carry and outraced the secondary to the end zone and a 14-0 lead.
Harrison, playing without quarterback Todd Wall, who suffered a season-ending knee injury last week against Sterling, and top running back Demetrius Graves (concussion) hung around.
Despite giving up more than seven yards per rush, the Panthers trailed only 14-0 heading into the second half. Coronado doubled the lead in the third quarter, getting a lucky break when Colt Nixon recovered Duvall's fumble in the end zone with 4:45 left in the third quarter.
After forcing a turnover on downs, Micci took the next play 62 yards for his second touchdown. In the game's final minute, Micci, also a strong safety, stepped in front of a Sam Garcia pass and raced 68 yards down the left sideline.
"We ran out of gas a little, but when you lose your quarterback for the season and one of the better running backs in the state, it limits what you can do," Panthers coach Al Melo said. "But that's no excuse. You still have to block and tackle. We played a good team, and the kids played hard. You can't ask for anything more."
Garcia, thrust into the starting role during the first half of last week's game, completed 9-of-16 passes for 134 yards but was intercepted twice. His 9-yard pass to Darius Graves on a timing route to the left sideline broke up a shutout and broke a scoring drought of more than five quarters.
"We've been fighting through a lot of changes with injuries, but everyone is stepping up," said Garcia, a sophomore. "The coaches have helped me out to get me prepared. I just have to make plays and be there for the team."