Chandler could do no wrong in the first half Friday night.
Even when the Wolves appeared to have taken a misstep — like turning a second-and-three into a thrid-and-15. Nope, touchdown.
And the touchdowns came often — on all seven first-half possessions, in fact — as second-seeded Chandler routed 10th-seeded Basha 49-21 in the Division I quarterfinals at Chandler. The Wolves will face rival Hamilton in next week's semifinals at Highland.
Chandler coach Shaun Aguano preached to his team all week the importance of getting out to an early lead on Basha. "Get two three-and-out stops and we'll be up 21-0 by the end of the first quarter," he said.
Chandler instead made four stops, and Bryce Perkins directed a quick-strike offense to 35 points in the opener period. The game, for all intents and purposes, was over before the first quarter ended.
"We came out with anger on our hearts," Perkins said.
That anger quantified itself in halftime advantage of 489 yards to 31. Perkins accounted for six touchdowns in the first half, when the Wolves had seven plays of more than 20 yards.
The junior Perkins was 10-for-12 passing for 213 yards and two touchdowns, and ran for 136 yards and four scores as Chandler forced a running clock with more than nine minutes left in the second quarter.
"Bryce kind of took over," said Aguano, whose team beat Basha by 35 in late-October. "In the last game, I thought we probably should have scored 63 points on them. I knew if we got on them quick they would probably have a hard time coming back on us."
Picking up a first down was hard for the Bears, who didn't do so until 7:45 remained in the first half. But even that was gifted by way of a Chandler penalty. Basha's first earned first down came late in the half.
"I thought we were going to play really well. Our practices were great this week," Basha coach Bernie Busken said. "Everybody tried to do everybody else's job instead of just their own. It's disappointing and frustrating.
"It's not good any time you don't do well, but that was especially disappointing because I thought we were going to play well."
Basha was set on establishing a run game, even when it fell behind by 28. Quarterback Zach Werlinger, who last week threw for 453 yards, didn't attempt a pass until 2:34 remained in the first quarter.
"I expected a shootout. But our defense played so great," Perkins said.
Chandler finished with 507 yards to Basha's 227. Chase Lucas rushed for 111 yards and Dionte Sykes caught five passes for 115 yards.
Basha scored three fourth-quarter touchdowns — two Rajhan Meriwether runs and a Werlinger sneak — against Chandler back-ups.
Many of those reserves aren't likely to see the field next week when Chandler and Hamilton meet for the right to play to the state title. The Wolves earlier this season beat Hamilton for the first time ever, 26-16 by scoring 20 fourth-quarter points.
"I'm glad we're going to go against Hamilton again," Aguano said.
Hamilton, undoubtedly, is looking forward to the rematch as well.
CHANDLER 49, BASHA 21
Basha 0 0 0 21 — 21
Chandler 35 14 0 0 — 49
C — McCulley 51 pass from Perkins (Knutson kick), 10:56
C — Perkins 62 run (Knutson kick), 9:12
C — Perkins 8 run (Knutson kick), 6:17
C — D. Sykes 25 pass from Perkins (Knutson kick), 3:17
C — E. Sykes 15 run (Knutson kick), 0:02
C — Perkins 5 run (Knutson kick), 9:55
C — Perkins 12 run (Knutson kick), 0:29
B — Werlinger 3 run (Thompson kick), 7:46
B — Meriwether 21 run (Thompson kick), 5:25
B — Meriwether 6 run (Thompson kick), 1:11
First downs 14, 21
Rushing 38-113, 32-294
Passing 11-17-114-0, 10-12-213-0
Fumbles-Lost 1-1, 1-0
Penalties-Yards 5-55, 9-92
RUSHING — Basha: Meriwether 20-61, Werlinger 16-44, Welsh 1-10, O'Connor 1-(-2). Chandler: Perkins 14-134, Lucas 6-111, Culbreath 5-19, E. Sykes 1-15, Ware 4-15, Flanigan 2-0.
PASSING — Basha: Werlinger 11-17-114-0. Chandler: Perkins 10-12-213-0.
RECEIVING — Basha: Robertson 2-24, Yamamato 1-23, Storm 2-22, Meriwether 3-22, O'Connor 2-14. Chandler: D. Sykes 5-115, McCulley 1-51, Lucas 2-22, E. Sykes 1-16, Flanigan 1-9.
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