PEYTON BENDER LAST NIGHT
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Future Washington State quarterback Peyton Bender used a scalpel to slash between the hash marks and throw a school record five passing scores Friday as Cardinal Gibbons beat Northeast 49-18. The surfer-haired-slinger connected with Louisville commit George Rushing for 115 yards and three scores en route to a 21 of 31 performance, with 273 yards and just one interception.
“I think the offense played well,” Peyton Bender said. “George and I have good chemistry. We throw a lot on the weekends and in the offseason. We really worked on our timing and it showed tonight.”
Bender fumbled four times, recovering each time, and was intercepted in a 30-0 victory last week and made a point to clean up his under-center exchange Friday.
“It was really the snaps last week,” Bender said. “But we really focused on it more this week in practice and we fixed that up a little bit.”
A WIN FOR COACH: Cardinal Gibbons (5-0) coach Mike Morrill earned win No. 100 Friday (100-46). Morrill said the five touchdown passes is the most he can remember a quarterback throwing in his 15 seasons on the Chiefs sideline.
“It is nice,” Morrill said “But it’s just a long time.”
Morrill added that the Hurricanes (1-3) were able to keep his Air-Raid off of the field with long-sustaining drives.
“We were hoping to get some rhythm offensively,” Morrill said. “We actually did quite well while we were on the field. The offense scored quickly and we were off the field. Northeast did a good job of keeping us off the field. We are pleased with what the offense did tonight.”
IN THE LAB: Chemistry class has meant weekend meetings behind Bender’s house with his favorite target, Rushing. Bender, who lives directly behind the Chiefs home stadium, keeps a steady relationship with Rushing and the two get in as many reps as possible when they are together.
(VIDEO INTERVIEWS WITH BENDER, RUSHING AND HEAD COACH AT BOTTOM OF THIS STORY.)
“He is awesome,” Rushing said. “All he had to do is put the ball on point and I will go get it. I just like catching the ball wherever it is.”
But Morrill mentioned Bender’s eyes are always active when scanning for open arms. The quarterback proved it with seven consecutive completions to four different receivers in the second and third quarter.
“He has chemistry with all of the receivers,” Morrill said. “George had a great game tonight. We have been pleased with the way we are performing and hopefully we can keep it going. We have 30 seniors that have been together for four years and they are hungry to do something special.”
Cougar’s receivers should have something to look forward to according to Rushing’s attitude toward his quarterback.
“I come over his house a lot and we are texting each other all the time,” Rushing said. “We worked on it all off season and always talk about it.”
Bender now sits at second in school history for single season touchdown passes with 19 scores. The record is 21, set in 2009 by Chris Rapka, according to the school website.
SCOUTING THE SURGEON: Bender started the game gunning three straight passes to the left side for 35 yards and Rushing’s first score. On the touchdown pass, Bender split to the left and spiraled a pass to an open target with ease.
After each team traded touchdowns, giving Gibbons a 14-12 lead, Bender and Rushing connected again on a five-yard dart. The Chiefs would pile up 21 second-quarter points.
The lone mistake of the game came when Bender stepped backed and heaved a 40-yard shot down the right flank, overshooting his intended receiver and ending up in the hands of a defensive back, following a beautiful over-the-shoulder catch.
Bender’s final first half score was a 13-yard fling into the hands of wide receiver Trevor Osceola and gave the Chiefs a 28-12 advantage.
Rushing made his best catch on, perhaps, Bender best throw. In the third quarter, Bender stepped back and locked eyes with the red clad No. 1, before gripping the laces tight and ripping a spiral through the wind and into the back of the end zone. Rushing connected with the hard throw and corralled into the end zone with his fingertips on the 38-yard play.
Bender would go onto throw his last touchdown, a 20-yard dagger, to Christian Blake in the fourth quarter as the Chiefs won easily.
BENDER’S GAME STATS: 21-of-31 for 273 yards, 5 TDs and 1 INT
BENDER’S SEASON STATS: 102-of-149 for 1,413 yards, 19 TDs and three INTs
NEXT UP: Key West on Friday the 4th
VIDEO INTERVIEWS FROM FRIDAY NIGHT (of note, they may start out fuzzy but will clear up quickly):