HERMISTON - Wa-Hi's offense ushered in the Mike Gobel era here Friday night with scores on its first two possessions during its non-conference football encounter with the host Bulldogs at Kennison Field.
Quarterback Matt Watson finished off the Blue Devils' game-opening drive - a 73-yard, seven-play excursion - with a 15-yard touchdown pass to Jonah Hoe, who bobbed and weaved his way through Hermiston defenders and crossed the goal line at the 8:59 mark of the opening quarter.
Following a six-point response by the Bulldogs, sophomore Dean Atkinson ended Wa-Hi's second possession - which netted 61 yards on six plays - by booting a 32-yard field goal with 3:52 left in the period that gave the Blue Devils a 10-6 lead.
After that, minus a fourth-quarter score, it proved to be a frustrating night for Wa-Hi, which squandered numerous scoring chances in, or on the periphery, of the red zone over the final three stanzas.
That, combined with 141 rushing yards from Jacob Almaguer and 214 yards passing and three touchdowns throws from Tim Rude, resulted in a 32-17 season-opening defeat.
"Hermiston is a good club," Gobel said. "This (game) will help us get ready for league play."
Watson and wide receiver Moe Handcox highlighted the Blue Devils' initial offensive thrust by hooking up for pass completions of 14 and 40 yards. Handcox electrified the Wa-Hi partisans in attendance with a diving effort on the latter reception.
Hermiston's first touchdown came with 6:49 left in the first. Rude connected with Joey Burns for a 27-yard pitch-and-catch.
The Bulldogs took the lead for good with 4:45 remaining in the second quarter on a 52-yard throw from Rude to Jeremy Holden.
Jake Robertson replaced Watson in period two and made an immediate impression with a 47-yard scamper down the right sideline.
But at the end of the play, the 6-foot-6, 207-pound signal caller was separated from the ball and Hermiston recovered the loose pigskin at its 25-yard line.
Wa-Hi's next two series ended with a punt and a missed field goal from 47 yards out.
Robertson drove the Blue Devils from their 15 to the Hermiston 13 later in the stanza. But defensive lineman Dustin Rogers ended Wa-Hi's final threat of the first half with an interception.
Rique Cardenas increased the Bulldogs' advantage to double figures, 20-10, on a 50-yard dash with 7:01 left in the third quarter.
The Blue Devils, with Watson back at the helm, closed to within three, 20-17, with 8:25 to go in the game on a 6-yard grab by Marshall Dunovant that completed a surge of 13 plays and 79 yards that commenced late in the third period.
The Bulldogs put the game away with two touchdowns in the final 7:04 of play.
Wa-Hi's last two possessions were cut short by a lost fumble and interception. Both stalled inside the Hermiston 30.
"That hurt," Gobel said. "We turned the ball over way too many times.
"I was pleased with the effort of our kids. We got a lot of kids on the field. Now they have one (game) under their belt and can move on from here."
Watson completed 13 of 21 passes for 236 yards and added 67 yards on nine carries. Handcox and Josh Eggers caught five passes apiece for 138 and 80 yards, respectively.
"Matt looked really good," Gobel said. "He played an outstanding game.
"Our receiving corps played decently," he said. "They performed the way we expected them to perform."
The Blue Devils host Southridge Friday at Borleske Stadium.
Wa-Hi 10 0 0 7 - 17
Herm 6 7 7 12 - 32
Wa-Hi - Hoe 15 pass from Watson (Atkinson kick).
Herm - Burns 27 pass from Rude (kick blocked).
Wa-Hi - Atkinson 32 FG.
Herm - Holden 52 pass from Rude (Ortiz kick).
Herm - Cardenas 50 run (Ortiz kick).
Wa-Hi - Dunovant 6 pass from Watson (Atkinson kick).
Herm - Ortiz 43 pass from Rude (kick failed).
Herm - Almaguer 4 run (kick failed).
First downs 21 20
Rushes/yards 33-181 38-212
Passing yards 276 214
Passes (att-comp-int) 31-16-2 25-8-1
Punts 2-33 4-33.3
Fumbles-lost 4-2 1-1
Penalties-yards 5-25 8-84
RUSHING - Wa-Hi: Watson 9-67, Filan 8-51, Robertson 4-36, Hoe 12-27; Herm: Almaguer 28-141, Cardenas 3-69, Posada 1-7, Burns 1-3, Rude 2-(-2), Team 3-(-6).
PASSING - Wa-Hi: Watson 13-21-1, 236 yards, 2 TDs, Robertson 3-10-1, 40 yards, 0 TDs; Herm: Rude 8-25-1, 214 yards, 3 TDs.
RECEIVING - Wa-Hi: Handcox 5-138, Eggers 5-80, Hoe 3-38-1, Rowley 1-14, Dunovant 1-6-1, Filan 1-0; Herm: Hodges 3-53, Burns 2-60-1, Holden 2-58-1, Ortiz 1-43.