Gonzaga Prep has found a new way to win.
The Bullpups have been a grind-it-out, run-the-option, field-position type of football team for the past few years, and it’s worked. But Thursday night at Eastern Washington University’s Woodward Field, G-Prep showed an explosive side keyed by Brandon Kennedy’s four touchdowns of more than 36 yards, en route to a 44-24 rout of host Cheney.
“Our ability to score points is greatly improved (this year), thanks to our athleticism,” Prep coach Dave Carson said. “Tonight we made some big plays on defense that gave us some points and allowed us to get some separation.”
Prep, which had scored just 28 points in winning its first two games, topped that total in the first half Thursday. The 30 the Bullpups scored came courtesy of four big plays and Cheney turnovers.
The first time G-Prep touched the ball, quarterback Billy Karwacki took an option around the left side for 55 yards, part of his team-leading 81 yards rushing. But despite having a first down at the Cheney 12, G-Prep settled for a 28-yard Karwacki field goal.
On the ensuing kickoff, Brett Igbinoba put Cheney ahead with a tackle-breaking 92-yard touchdown run.
But then the Blackhawks (2-1 overall, 1-1 in the Greater Spokane League) decided to turn generous, and Prep (3-0, 2-0) took advantage.
On the next possession, a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty against Cheney gave Prep a first down near midfield. Two plays later Karwacki teamed with Kennedy on a 55-yard touchdown pass.
Kennedy scored again 3 minutes later, picking up a Cheney fumble at the Blackhawks 32 and racing down the sideline for a 68-yard score. Cheney had been marching, and Kennedy’s run seemed to take the air out of the Blackhawks.
“I just scooped it like we do in drills all the time, broke one tackle and just kept running,” Kennedy said, adding he had never scored four touchdowns before, “not even in practice.”
A diving Connor Hare interception – one of four picks for Gonzaga Prep – led to a 23-yard touchdown run for Kellen Byrne. The senior reserve running back finished with five carries for 75 yards.
Kennedy touchdown No. 3 came with 2:15 left before halftime on a 48-yard strike from Karwacki. The senior quarterback only completed two passes (on eight attempts), but they totaled 103 yards.
Kennedy’s last score came midway in the third quarter, when he gathered in an interception and returned it 36 yards down the sideline, putting the Pups up by 25 and bringing on the reserves.
Quarterback Mike Kinnie and Igbinoba keyed the Blackhawks offense. The junior quarterback was 20 of 31 for 238 yards, though he had four interceptions. He also rushed for two scores.
Igbinoba carried 23 times for 99 yards, caught six passes for another 74 and earned praise from Carson.
“He is a heck of player,” the Prep coach said. “He runs hard and he’s got some shiftiness to him. We don’t see that very often and it’s impossible to mimic in practice.”
But the Blackhawks were done in by five turnovers and Prep’s big plays.
Mead 38, University 12
In a game marred by injuries, the defending GSL-champion Panthers earned their first win of the year. And they did it without Skylar Jessen for the final three quarters of the nightcap at Albi Stadium.
The junior running back injured his right ankle in the second quarter after gaining 65 yards on eight carries. He was on crutches the rest of the game.
Andy Mattingly took over the scoring load, finding the end zone twice, the first coming on a 44-yard run, the second a 33-yard pass from Andrew DeFelice. Eric Regalado and Paul Senescall took over the rushing chores, with Regalado gaining 126 yards on nine carries, including a 86-yard scoring run, and Senescall adding 82 on 12.
U-Hi (0-3, 0-2) was led by quarterback J.D. Peterson’s two touchdown throws.
Lewis and Clark 27, West Valley 7
Junior running back Ethen Robinson rushed for 160 yards and scored four first-half touchdowns as the Tigers upped their record to 2-0 in the GSL and overall.
The LC defense limited WV (0-3, 0-2) to 164 total yards and forced three turnovers.
Quarterback Chad Bemis was 8 of 17 for 140 yards, including a 45-yard connection with Darryl Mackin that led to the first of Robinson’s three 1-yard scoring runs.