Or maybe the better word than ship is “plane.”
The Panthers (1-1) went to the air more than Clark Kent on Friday night as quarterback Tyson Wallace threw for 311 yards and two touchdowns in a 35-6 victory over Miramonte. Wallace had four different receivers with at least 56 yards, with Miles Bailey leading the way with 108 and one touchdown on five catches.
“It’s fun and it’s like playing backyard football again,” Wallace said. “Just having fun out there. With those type of weapons any quarterback would love to be out there again. I’m having fun. I miss being out here and getting that energy, getting the blood flowing and getting to play with all my guys again.”
Benicia head coach Craig Holden was also impressed with the turnaround in the Panthers’ second contest after falling to Campolindo last week.
“We caught the ball,” Holden said, with a laugh. “We weren’t playing volleyball. So that’s a good thing. Again, those are things that usually during the summer. You go 7-on-7 all summer and you get timing with your quarterbacks and receivers. All of our receivers are starting new from last year. There’s not a receiver returning from that bunch. So the connection with Tyson and the receivers isn’t really there yet, but we’re starting to get there after tonight.”
The timing was working early and often for the Panthers as they scored on their second possession when Croix Stewart caught a 51-yard touchdown to make it 7-0. Stewart, an American Canyon transfer, had three catches for 56 yards.
“When we went to huddle my coach said ‘the corners are playing about six, seven yards out, so let’s go with the five-yard zit,’” Wallace said. “So we went with the five-yard yit and felt comfortable with my decision and we just let it happen.”
After stopping the Matadors on a 3-and-out, Benicia added a second touchdown in the first quarter when Wallace found Joseph Zimmer downfield for a 37-yard gain. That helped set up a 1-yard touchdown run by Janari Boone.
Zimmer had four catches for 63 yards, while Boone ran the ball eight times for 43 yards and two scores. He also caught five passes for 84 yards.
Meanwhile, Benicia’s defense was stellar, as it didn’t allow a point in the first half. Landen Croinex had a fumble recovery at the start of the second quarter, while the Panthers forced a turnover on downs twice in the first half to go with four punts.
Overall, Benicia allowed just over 150 yards of offense.
“I liked how we all came together and we stopped them every time we had to,” Benicia’s R.J. Cabral said. “That was that. Everybody played with their hearts out. I’m impressed with everybody’s performance, even the secondary. Everyone was coming in and making plays. It was a good game for us.”
Cabral had a near interception in the second half on a diving attempt.
Benicia added to its lead in the second quarter with a 13-yard run by Boone that made it 21-0 at the half.
In the third quarter Wallace began to find his connection with Bailey. After a 17-yard completion to the big wideout and running back, Wallace found him again, this time for 63 yards and a touchdown that made it 28-0.
“He’s a big target. At 6-4, 250, it’s pretty hard for a high school safety or corner to cover that guy,” Wallace said. “Having him on our side is just a huge asset for us.”
Miramonte found pay dirt for the only time on its next drive when Aidan Browne completed a dart to Tyler Dutto in the end zone for a score. Miramonte missed the extra point and it was 28-6.
The final score of the game came when Bailey took a handoff 10 yards for a score and a 35-6 lead, which would become the final.
“It was a mentality,” Cabral said. “We just turned it up and we played our own game. We had a chip on our shoulder from last game and we came out and we were ready tonight.”
Holden was also impressed in how quick the team is improving in a short amount of time.
“I think we’re a pretty good team but we’re just young,” Holden said. “Not making excuses but we’ve only been doing this for three weeks. It’s tough to get in gear and click on all cylinders in three weeks. We’ve got athletes, there’s no ifs, ands, or buts about it. But it’s tough when you’re only at the three-week mark. I just asked their (Miramonte) coach how long they’ve been playing and he said ‘since June.’ Campolindo has been playing since June. We’ve been going for three weeks. So it’s a big difference.”