FAIRFIELD — Benicia High is known for its passing game and Friday night’s visit to Armijo’s Brownlee Field was no exception as quarterback Ryan Bohnet threw for four touchdowns and 286 yards in a 34-14 Panthers victory.
Bohnet tossed 173 of those yards in the first quarter. Each of his touchdowns hit a different Panthers receiver — James Hyde Jr. for 12 yards, Anthony Guidry for 8, Drae Randolph for 9 and Joey Deseve with a 45-yarder to cap the game-opening drive.
“They’re a great passing team,” said Armijo coach Karl Finley. “We were in the right spot to grab some cloth and be OK, but just came up a few steps short.”
Nonetheless, Armijo showed resistance on both sides of the ball. After a first-quarter fumble gave the Panthers two touchdowns in 30 seconds, the Indians trailed 20-0 entering the second stanza.
Driving the ball 80 yards, Armijo capped a 5-minute, 30-second drive when Damian Simpson scored on a 1-yard blast up the the gut just after the 8-minute mark. Simpson tacked on a successful run for a 2-point conversion to cut Benicia’s lead to 20-8.
Simpson’s TD was set up by a 47-yard scamper along the Benicia sideline by Jairon Gacosta, moving the ball across midfield and into the red zone. It was the longest rush of the night for either team and helped Gacosta to a game-high 83 rushing yards.
Later, after ticking the final four minutes off of the clock in the third quarter, Armijo opened the fourth with a 2-yard push through the line from Andre Johnson to draw the score to 34-14.
Defensively, the Indians twice benefited from Benicia turnovers inside the red zone. The first came with 7:30 to go in the second quarter, when Enrique Garrido-Ramirez recovered a Bohnet fumble at the Armijo 34.
Later, in the fourth quarter, a Bohnet pass resulted in a fumble, which Armijo’s Toeta Elise scooped up in the end zone for a touchback.
It was one of two fumble recoveries on the night for Elise, who also hauled in a slippery Indians fumble at midfield on the final play of the first half.
“We get this much better every day,” Finley said, pinching his fingers together to demonstrate. “If they are out of position out there, that’s my fault. It all starts at the top.”
A penalty kept a Benicia drive alive at a dire moment in the third quarter. After penalties backed the Panthers into a third-and-39 from their own 37, a Bohnet pass fell incomplete, but defensive pass interference was called against Armijo, resulting in a fresh set of downs for the Panthers. They capitalized on it, scoring on a 12-yard toss from Bohnet to Hyde.
On Deseve’s first-quarter touchdown, Bohnet connected on a pass across the middle before Deseve shook off a defender and bolted for the goal line.
Jared Clemons had the Panthers’ only rushing touchdown, a 3-yard tally in the first quarter.
With the loss, Armijo fell to 0-3 on the year while Benicia climbed to 3-0.
Reach Nick DeCicco at 427-6966 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ndeciccodr.