Basha quarterback Zach Werlinger knows it’s impossible for a football team to throw the ball 100 percent of the time on offense.
Don’t let that get back to coach Bernie Busken. He may just try it.
The No. 7 Bears made no bones about their strategy on Friday night as Werlinger completed 31-of-49 passes for 396 yards and two touchdowns in a 35-21 win over No. 6 Pinnacle in a Division I football matchup.
Werlinger had 35 attempts at halftime as Basha went almost exclusively to the air early on without the services of running back Rajhan Meriwether (injury). Werlinger avoided turning the ball over and the offensive line kept him mostly upright as Basha responded to every Pioneers’ push.
“We thought if we could block them we could get open,” Busken said. “Zach’s a stud and the linemen have been playing well. No (worries) at all (throwing that much).”
Doc O’Connor had 15 catches for 159 yards while Jared Schmidt added six for 146 and a touchdown. Basha ran the ball 33 times for only 78 yards -- much of those coming late to milk the clock -- but threw it so well it didn’t matter.
“We knew going into it we wanted to get in a rhythm through the air early,” Werlinger said. “We were able to get some momentum.”
Basha led 21-9 at intermission but Pinnacle threatened multiple times in the second half. A field goal and a safety cut the deficit to 21-14, and Pinnacle looked like it might force a punt on third down early in the fourth quarter. However, Werlinger found Jared Schmidt for a 70-yard pass play, which set up a 1-yard touchdown run by Cody Conrad on a fourth-and-goal with 9:16 remaining for a two-touchdown advantage.
The Pioneers (2-2) pulled to within 28-21 on a 7-yard touchdown run by Josh Hoekstra, but again the Bears responded when Werlinger hit Smith on a 22-yard scoring pass. Pinnacle drove down the field again but Pinnacle quarterback Brian Lewerke fumbled and Basha recovered with 4:25 to go to seal the victory.
“I said before the game the team that plays with less mistakes was going to win this game,” Pinnacle coach Dana Zupke said. “That was definitely not us tonight.”
Lewerke finished 14-of-33 for 231 yards and a touchdown and added 106 yards on the ground. Wide receiver Daniel Galindo had eight catches for 153 yards and a score but star running back Josh Hoekstra was held to just 20 carries for 45 yards and one touchdown.
Pinnacle defensive lineman Harris Scoville was taken off in an ambulance in the fourth quarter after hurting his back, but Zupke said it was precautionary and he should be fine.
Basha 35, Pinnacle 21
Pinnacle 6 3 5 7 – 21
Basha 7 14 0 14 – 35
First Downs: Pinnacle 19, Basha 23
Rushing: Pinnacle 36-151; Basha 33-78
Passing (Comp-Att-Yards-TD-Int): Pinnacle 14-33-231-0-0; Basha 31-49-396-2-1
Fumbles-Lost: Pinnacle 2-2; Basha 0-0
Penalties-Yards: Pinnacle 8-62; Basha 8-79
P - Galindo 67 pass from Lewerke, kick failed
B - Robertson 6 pass from Werlinger, Thompson kick
B - Thompson 23 FG
B - Thompson 37 FG
P - Sweet 27 FG
B - Conrad 2 run, Schmidt from Werlinger
P - Sweet 31 FG
P - Safety on step out of bounds
B - Conrad 1 run, Thompson kick
P - Hoekstra 7 run
B - Schmidt 22 pass from Werlinger, Thompson kick