RICHLAND - Wa-Hi's football team will have to wait another week to try to score its first Big Nine win of the 2010 season after a 34-7 loss to Richland on the road dropped the Blue Devils to 0-4 in league play.
The Blue Devils were prepared for the Bombers' accomplished run game, led by Jake McKinney, who averages nearly 200 yards per contest, but it was Richland's air attack that tallied the first two scores of the game.
Colter Quick hit Ellijah Gardaya on an 11-yard strike less than two minutes into the game and Gage Reynolds on an 18-yard score in the second quarter to put the Bombers up 14-0.
"We knew they could run the ball," said Wa-Hi head coach Mike Gobel. "I think the game was closer than the score would indicate, and if we could have gotten some breaks early then we would have been right there."
The Blue Devils created several of their own breaks by forcing four turnovers, but the offense struggled to capitalize on the defense's big plays. Richland held Wa-Hi to just 78 yards rushing on 30 carries, while piling up almost 200 yards on the ground and 177 in the air.
"We got out early on them," Quick said. "Still, I don't think we can ever feel comfortable playing a team like that because we know they're always going to be in it. We've been working on balancing out our attack more, and our coaches have been telling us we're going to pass 20 times a game, and we did that tonight."
Senior running back McKinney, who finished the game with 123 rushing yards, closed out the first half scoring with a 2-yard punch-in to make it a three-score spread at the intermission.
"I'm proud of our kids for competing tonight," Gobel said. "We were coming off a tough loss, and we showed a lot of heart and dedication tonight."
McKinney found paydirt again in the third quarter from 3 yards out to effectively put the game out of reach for the Blue Devils.
"We knew we had to focus on McKinney, and I think that let them pass a little more, but he's a talented back," Gobel said. "He's hard to stop, and I think, overall, we were successful, but you know he's going to get his."
Richland put an emphatic close to their scoring night when Malcom Jimmerson picked off a Matt Watson pass and scampered 79 yards for Richland's fifth score.
"We played well in all aspects," McKinney said. "We were fired up tonight, and being able to play well on defense and getting the passing game going well made this a good game."
The Blue Devils turned to Jake Robertson at quarterback for their final series, and the senior found Moe Handcox, who finished the night with 138 yards receiving, for a 39-yard bomb to get Wa-Hi on the board.
"Getting that score meant a lot to our kids," Gobel said. "It gives them something to feel good about heading into next week."
Wa-Hi welcomes Moses Lake to Walla Walla on Friday.
"We have at least two games left," Gobel said. "I know our team is not going to give up. We still have a lot we can accomplish going forward."
Richland 34, Wa-Hi 7
Wa-Hi 0 0 0 7 - 7
Richland 7 14 7 6 - 34
Rich - Gardaya 11-yard pass from Quick (Garza kick).
Rich - Reynolds 18-yard pass from Quick (Garza kick).
Rich - McKinney 2-yard run (Garza kick).
Rich- McKinney 3-yard run (Garza kick).
Rich - Jimmerson 79-yard interception return (kick missed).
Wa-Hi - Handcox 39-yard pass from Robertson (Atkinson kick).
First downs 11 18
Rushes/yards 30-48 33-194
Passing yards 177 211
Passes (att-comp-int) 24-12-1 23-14-2
Punts 8-266 2-74
Fumbles-lost 0-0 2-2
Penalties-yards 7-66 6-69
RUSHING - Wa-Hi: Hoe 18-38, Watson 6-4, Robertson 3-20, Handcox 1-7, Dunovant 1-6, Filan 1-1. Richland: McKinney 19-123, Robinson 6-58, Chalmers 4-5, Cruz 2-5, Reynolds 1-5, Carrato 1-3.
PASSING - Wa-Hi: Watson 10-20, Robertson 2-4. Richland: Quick 14-23.
RECEIVING - Wa-Hi: Handcox 5-138, Rowley 3-27, Eggers 2-29, Campeau 1-14, Hoe 1-3. Richland: Reynolds 5-77, Gardaya 5-45, Powell 3-58, Gallinger 1-3.