RICHLAND — Running back Bennett Peterson rushed for two touchdowns and quarterback Zach Whitby passed for another to lead Richland to a 21-6 victory over Wa-Hi in Mid-Columbia Conference football action Friday night at a hot and humid Fran Rish Stadium.
The Bombers, who limited the Blue Devils to 186 yards total offense, improved to 2-0 on the season and dropped Wa-Hi to 0-2 on a night when the game-time temperature hovered around the 90-degree mark.
“I’m proud of the kids,” Wa-Hi coach Eric Hisaw said. “They fought through a lot of adversity.”
That adversity included severe high ankle sprains suffered by linebacker Troy Aguilar and running back/linebacker Willie Hayes, a slight concussion for receiver Mitch Huffman, and several instances in which play was stopped due to Blue Devil players suffering cramps.
Richland quickly seized the upper hand with a pair of first-period scores. The Bombers traveled 71 yards in 12 plays on their opening series of the night, a possession that ended at the 7:42 mark on a four-yard touchdown toss from Whitby to Anthony Galat.
The Bombers converted a fourth-and-5 play from the Wa-Hi 47 during their possession. With the Blue Devils thinking punt, Whitby hit a wide-open Hunter Chambers for a 16-yard pass and catch.
“We didn’t line up well enough,” Hisaw said. “We didn’t handle it well.”
Galat scored six plays after that.
The first of three successful PAT kicks by Damian Ruiz made it 7-0.
A high snap out of punt formation helped set up Richland’s second six-point foray across the Wa-Hi goal line. Peterson ended a 37-yard, four-play march with a rushing touchdown of three yards to double the Bombers’ advantage to 14-0.
The Blue Devils’ defense produced a big play late in quarter one that set their offense up on the door step of the Richland end zone. Gerardo Gomez intercepted a Whitby pass at the Bombers’ 38-yard line and negotiated his way down the right sideline before being tackled at the 1.
Sophomore running back Noah Porter, who led Wa-Hi with 46 yards rushing on 15 carries, tallied on the next play from scrimmage.
“Noah was awesome,” Hisaw said. “He played lights out. He was physical. I’m proud of him.”
A failed extra-point attempt left the score at 14-6 with 1:40 remaining in the first quarter.
A stalemate ensued over periods two and three.
Both teams were unable to cash in second-quarter field goal tries. Ruiz missed from 40 yards out and the Blue Devils’ Ethan Gardner was unsuccessful on a 35-yard boot.
Richland took its eight-point lead into halftime.
Wa-Hi opened the second half with a drive from its 35 to the Richland 25. Significant snaps included a five-yard pass from quarterback Zach Zehner to Gomez that converted a third-and-4 situation at the Blue Devil 41, an 11-yard aerial to Reid Magnaghi, and a 13-yard dash by Zehner.
But Wa-Hi drove no further and turned the ball over on downs four plays after Zehner’s run.
The Bombers put the game out of reach with eight minutes left in the final period when Josh Phillips crashed into the end zone from five yards away.
The Blue Devils matriculated from their 17 to the Richland 21 later in the quarter, but would again relinquish the pigskin on downs.
“We had our chances,” Hisaw said. “We didn’t make enough plays.”
Galat led Richland running backs with 62 of the Bombers’ 221 yards rushing. He achieved his yardage total on 13 totes.
Phillips and Nathan Perry contributed 58 and 57 yards rushing, respectively, for Richland.
Whitby completed 11-of-23 passes for 153 yards.
Zehner was 11-of-30 for 114 yards and rushed eight times for 40 yards.
Both teams were flagged numerous times during the contest. Richland was penalized 10 times for 102 yards while the Blue Devils suffered 91 yards in losses on nine infractions.
“We had too many penalties,” Hisaw said. “Three personal fouls? That’s got to stop. It shouldn’t have happened.”
“We made too many mistakes,” said Willie Hayes, a Wa-Hi running back and linebacker. “We couldn’t step it up on third down. It was disappointing. We’re better. It (turning things around) is going to take us stepping up together and doing our jobs.”
“Offensively, we couldn’t move the ball,” wide receiver and defensive back Darnell Handcox said. “We couldn’t get going. The defense played great.”
The Blue Devils host Davis in their home opener next Friday at 7 p.m.
“We did a lot of great things,” Hisaw said. “We need to learn from our mistakes and move on.”
Richland 21, Wa-Hi 6
Wa-Hi 6 0 0 0 — 6
Richland 14 0 0 7 — 21
Rich — Galat 4 pass from Z. Whitby (Ruiz kick).
Rich — Peterson 3 run (Ruiz kick).
Wa-Hi — Porter 1 run (kick failed).
Rich — Peterson 5 run (Ruiz kick).
First downs 13 22
Rushes/yards 31-82 45-221
Passing yards 114 153
Passes (att-comp-int) 30-11-0 23-11-1
Punts 5-30 2-41
Fumbles-lost 2-0 2-2
Penalties-yards 9-91 10-102
RUSHING — Wa-Hi: Porter 15-46-1, Zehner 8-40, Gillin 4-5, Hayes 1-3, Handcox 1-(-3), Gardner 1-(-4), Team 1-(-5); Rich: Galat 13-62, Phillips 9-58, Perry 8-57, Peterson 7-40-2, Whitby 5-4, Mackey 1-3, Team 2-(-3).
PASSING — Wa-Hi: Zehner 11-30-0, 114 yards, 0 TDs; Rich: Z. Whitby 11-23-1, 153 yards, 1 TD.
RECEIVING — Wa-Hi: Handcox 3-15, Huffman 2-37, Porter 2-19, Gillen 1-23, Magnaghi 1-11, Gomez 1-5, Hayes 1-4; Rich: Radliff 4-54, Nelson 2-29, Wills 1-18, Devries 1-16, McGeorge 1-16, Chambers 1-16, Galat 1-4-1.