NORTON — A healthier J.I. Burton squad came out clicking on all-cylinders in the Region D semifinals Saturday to the tune of a 48-6 win over St. Paul at Lawson-Fitchko Stadium.
Martinez Miles scored three touchdowns in the rout — one on a 44-yard reception, another on a 48-yard interception return. A third came on a 22-yard jaunt.
“He’s a playmaker,” Raiders coach Jimbo Fisher said of Miles. “He’s a sophomore and his best days are ahead of him.”
Burton (11-1) signal caller Ethan Stewart finished with 126 yards and three TDs on 6-of-9 passing, despite tossing a pair of interceptions.
“Ethan only made one mistake, and other than that he played flawless,” Adams said of his senior quarter back. “He just makes plays and he’s done it all season long.”
The Raider defense, led by Will Godsey and Skylar Peters, turned in a dominating performance, holding the Deacons (8-3) to 176 yards of total offense — most of those coming after the game was in hand.
“I thought we came out fired up,” Stewart said. “The defense was energized and set the tone for the rest of the game.
“We made some nice plays on offense, the line blocked great and coach put us in position to make some plays”
And make plays they did.
Stewart got things going early for the Raiders when he found Miles on a 44-yard scoring strike on their second play from scrimmage.
Miles added to the lead when he intercepted a Tyler Phillips pass on St. Paul’s next possession and returned it 48-yards to paydirt. A Godsey extra point made it 14-0 with just under eight minutes remaining in the opening stanza.
Minutes later, a botched fake punt by St. Paul gave Burton the ball back on the Deacons’ 35-yard line. Five plays later Josh Miles scored on a 5-yard jaunt to give Burton a 21-0 advantage at the end of the first period.
The Deacons had a chance to cut into the Raider’s lead to start the second quarter after Josh Brooks picked off a Stewart pass. However, they came away empty handed when Devin Talley made a one-handed interception in the end zone.
Burton took over on its own 20 and Ethan Stewart completed passes of 15, 11, and 18 yards before finding Talley on a 24-yard TD pass to make it 27-0.
Burton marched down field behind the running of Jaymil Sensabaugh and Martinez Miles to open the second half, before Stewart connected with Talley on a 13-yard pass to give the Raiders a 34-point advantage.
Martinez Miles made his presence felt again on Burton’s next possession when he broke two tackles on a 22-yard touchdown run with 1:29 left in the third quarter.
“Our line blocked well and I saw the holes and went through them,” Martinez Miles said. “We had a good scheme, practiced well in practice and did our jobs.”
Peters pushed the Raiders’ lead to 48-0 midway through the fourth when he dove into the endzone to cap a 7-yard scoring run.
Brooks scored on a 32-yard run to finally put St. Paul on the board with 30 ticks left in the game — it was little more than a consolation.
Jaymil Sensabaugh finished with 79 yards on 14 carries for Burton despite having a 75-yard TD run called back due to holding. Martinez Miles had 48 yards rushing on four carries and 44 yards on one catch, while Jacob Caudill hauled in three catches for 44 yards. Talley finished with two TD receptions for 37 yards.
Brooks was the lone bright spot for St. Paul, finishing with 126 yards on 28 carries.
The Raiders now move on to face Clintwood, a 41-16 winner over Appalachia, in the Region D championship game next Saturday at the University of Virginia’s College at Wise.