Sam Aviles has been in the tunnel, standing on the track, looking down his lane and over the hurdles with his focus fully on being first at the finish line.

This was different. This was on the football field.

But the Palmyra quarterback was back in that singular state of mind, narrow of vision, free of distractions, running away from the competition again.

"I was just focused," Aviles said of his record-setting performance Friday night against Bordentown. "I was in this mode. I'm always focused, but I was just in this mode.

"It was like I was in the tunnel on the track. I saw holes, and I took them."

In Palmyra's 41-32 victory over Bordentown, Aviles set a South Jersey record for rushing yards by a quarterback with 404 on just 11 carries.

He scored touchdowns on runs of 46, 62, 84, and 99 yards.

"On the 99-yarder, he fakes a toss and, boom, he's gone," Palmyra coach Jack Geisel said. "He's always been a tremendous athlete, but now he's getting a better understanding of the game, and he's starting to see how to equate his speed with moves on the field."

The performance by the 5-foot-9, 155-pound Aviles ranks fifth on South Jersey's all-time list for single-game rushing yards, according to South Jersey sports historian Chuck Langerman.

But here's the thing: Aviles was a couple of penalty flags away from shattering the single-game mark of 478 yards set in 2012 by former Glassboro star Corey Clement, now a second-year professional with the Eagles.

Aviles and Geisel said three more of Aviles' touchdown runs, which accounted for around 150 more rushing yards, were called back by penalties.

"I would have been close to 600," Aviles said.

Aviles scored four touchdowns against Bordentown. He had three other TD runs called back by penalties.
Tom Gralish/Staff photographer
Aviles scored four touchdowns against Bordentown. He had three other TD runs called back by penalties.

Geisel said he knew Aviles was having a big game but had no idea the quarterback was generating more than 400 yards.

"And he took a couple kneel-downs at the end," Geisel said.

Aviles was surprised, too.

"I didn't even realize how many yards I was getting," Aviles said. "I was just running the whole time."

Aviles is a track star. He won the Group 1 state title in the high hurdles as a junior in 14.74 seconds.

But Aviles regards football as his top sport. He just never wanted to play quarterback.

"Sophomore year I was supposed to be the quarterback, but I didn't want to do it," Aviles said. "I was too nervous to play the position. I thought if we had a bad season it would be my fault."

Aviles changed his mind before this season. He's been under center for the first time in his career.

"I like it," Aviles said. "I like having the ball in my hands on every play."

Aviles is a good student with a 3.5 grade point average, according to Geisel. Aviles has drawn recruiting interest from college programs such as Delaware State and Kutztown (Pa..

Because Palmyra (3-4) missed the state tournament, Aviles has operated a little under the radar this season. He hopes his record-setting game against Bordentown will raise his profile.

"I'm not biggest guy, but I know what I can do," Aviles said. "I can definitely build on this. This is motivating me more. I know there are still people who don't believe in me."