WALLA WALLA - Sophomore quarterback Zack Whitby ran for two scores and passed for another Friday night as Richland put a damper on Wa-Hi's homecoming and last regular-season home game with a 31-15 victory in Big Nine Conference 4A football action at soggy Borleske Stadium.
Whitby threw for 271 yards on 16 completions. He hooked up with 10 different receivers during the course of the game.
The win leveled the Bombers' league record at 2-2 and lifted their overall mark to 5-2.
Wa-Hi slipped to 0-4 and 0-6.
Richland set the tone for the contest on its first series, a six-play drive that covered 58 yards. Whitby hit Colter Quick with a 36-yard pass over the middle on the third play of the possession - a third-and-9 from the Richland 43-yard line - and running back Cameron Simpson added 16 rushing yards on the next snap to give Richland a first-and-goal at the Wa-Hi 5.
Following a B.K. Robinson rush for 1 yard, Whitby negotiated the final four yards on the ground at the 9:53 mark of the opening quarter. The first of four PAT kicks by Q Taychack gave the Bombers a 7-0 lead.
"Third downs were excruciating," Wa-Hi coach Eric Hisaw said.
"We practice (third-down plays) all week," said Richland coach Mike Neidhold, whose team converted 7-of-13 third downs in the game. "There's no panic. The kids know what to do."
Linebacker Stuart Gillin put Wa-Hi in scoring position midway through the initial period when he intercepted a Whitby pass at his 39 and returned it 29 yards to the Bombers' 32.
But a three-and-out would halt the Blue Devils' momentum.
"We get a pick, the don't play well up front," Hisaw said.
Taychack increased Richland's lead to 10-0 with a 32-yard field goal on the last snap of period one. The boot ended a 69-yard, 14-play march.
Whitby's second touchdown - a 2-yard rush - with 5:42 left in the second quarter brought a 47-yard, 12-play drive to a successful conclusion and ballooned the Bombers' advantage to 17-0, a lead they would take into halftime.
While Richland's meticulous offensive effort produced 253 yards in the first half, its defense - No. 1 in the league against the run - allowed just 38 total yards and one first down. That first down was achieved on a 6-yard run around left end by Moe Handcox, making his first start of the season at quarterback, on the final play of period two.
"They could not run the ball, but we couldn't stop the (bootleg)," Hisaw said. "On defense, their (linebackers) are very impressive and their line is good. We were not in sync on offense in the first half. They made a couple of plays in the first half and we didn't."
"We make it special to play defense at Richland," Neidhold said. "Our staff does a great job preparing."
The Blue Devils showed signs of life on their first possession of the second half. Wa-Hi drove from its 28 to the Richland 32 and had a touchdown within its grasp when Handcox lofted a pass to his younger brother Darnell, who had gotten behind Bomber defensive back Ellijah Gardaya on the right sideline.
But the toss deflected off of the younger Handcox's left shoulder pad as he crossed the goal line and into the hands of Gardaya.
Wa-Hi, though, would get on the board when Gardaya's knee touched down in the end zone as he attempted to return the pick, resulting in a safety, at the 8:31 mark of the third quarter.
The Blue Devils advanced into the red zone on their next series, but turned the ball over on downs at the Richland 14.
Two plays later, Whitby found a wide-open Gardaya streaking through the heart of the Wa-Hi secondary for an 83-yard pitch-and-catch with 5:04 left in the period to up the Bombers' lead to 24-2.
Richland's last score came on a 5-yard run by Simpson with 9:20 to go in the fourth quarter.
Simpson's six-pointer occurred between a pair of Wa-Hi touchdown passes from Dakota Turner to Moe Handcox - a 15-yarder with 4.4 seconds remaining in the third quarter and a 1-yard aerial with 6:40 left in the final frame.
"I feel so bad for these kids," Hisaw said. "Our ‘O' line was better in the second half. I like the way we played."
"Give Walla Walla credit for making changes and giving us problems in the second half," Neidhold said. "That's a credit to Eric and his staff. They won't be (down) for long."
The game was the last at Borleske Stadium for Blue Devil seniors Moe Handcox, Blake Rowley, Kyle Jameson, Rob Ferenz, Matt Wickham, Simon Quackenbush, Joel McClure, Matt Rothstrom, Ashaunte Brown, Caleb Alaniz, Devon Pellham, Fernando Garcia, Marshall Mabley, Adrien Larkin-Coronado, Richard Jimenez, and Juan Garcia.
"They're great kids," Hisaw said. "They've (done) everything we've asked of them."
Wa-Hi continues league play next Friday night at Moses Lake.
Richland 31, Wa-Hi 15
Richland 10 7 7 7 - 31
Wa-Hi 0 0 8 7 - 15
Richland - Z. Whitby 4 run (Taychack kick).
Richland - Taychack 32 FG.
Richland - Z. Whitby 2 run (Taychack kick).
Wa-Hi - Safety: Gardaya downed ball in end zone.
Richland - Gardaya 83 pass from Z. Whitby (Taychack kick).
Wa-Hi - M. Handcox 15 pass from Turner (pass failed).
Richland - Simpson 5 run (Taychack kick).
Wa-Hi - M. Handcox 1 pass from Turner (Atkinson kick).
First downs 18 12
Rushes/yards 34-109 28-105
Passing yards 271 154
Passes (att-comp-int) 28-16-1 24-10-2
Punts 3-29.3 6-32
Fumbles-lost 0-0 2-0
Penalties-yards 10-101 11-98
RUSHING - Richland: B.K. Robinson 16-53, Simpson 7-47, McGeorge 1-9, Gardaya 1-7, Peterson 2-1, Team 1-(-2), Z. Whitby 6-(-6); Wa-Hi: Hoe 13-69, M. Handcox 9-42, Turner 5-(-3), Team 1-(-3).
PASSING - Richland: Z. Whitby 16-27-1, 271 yards, 1 TD, McGeorge 0-1-0, 0 yards; Wa-Hi: M. Handcox 2-7-1, 12 yards, 0 TDs, Turner 8-17-1, 142 yards, 2 TDs.
RECEIVING - Richland: Co. Quick 3-78, Gardaya 2-95-1, Samples 2-24, Liikala 2-17, Egbert 2-14, Ca. Quick 1-13, E. Whitby 1-12, P. Robinson 1-10, Simpson 1-7, B.K. Robinson 1-1; Wa-Hi: M. Handcox 3-44-2, Hoe 3-43, Ferenz 2-31, D. Handcox 1-27, Rowley 1-9.