ALLPORT — West Branch quarterback Ayden Gutierrez was recognized before Friday’s game at L.T. Drivas Memorial Field for his second straight 1,000-yard passing season and setting the school’s single-season passing record.
And then he went out and sliced and diced the Williamsburg defense.
Gutierrez, who broke Dave Luther’s single-season passing record last week, threw for 288 yards and two touchdowns of 64 and 40 yards on successive offensive plays to lead the Warriors to a 37-8 romp over the 0-8 Blue Pirates on a cool night.
“I think our whole passing attack was very good,” Gutierrez said. “We found some mismatches, and we took advantage. We had a great night. We put the record aside. We knew they were a tough team, and they were scrappy, so we had to come out with a lot of fire.”
“He broke West Branch’s single-season passing record, and then you saw why,” West Branch coach Kevin Hubler said. “He threw a couple great balls at the beginning of the game, helped get us out to that early lead. He’s a great quarterback, great kid.”
How about that pregame ceremony?
“That’s awesome,” Gutierrez said. “It’s pretty cool to be recognized, but it’s the whole offense’s recognition. It’s not mine. Without a line or receivers, I have nothing.”
Early on, the 2-6 Warriors were led by Will Herring, who gained 47 of his 121 rushing yards on the first series. He had a 31-yard run and a 1-yard touchdown on a 79-yard drive.
After the Warriors recovered a fumble on the next Williamsburg play, Gutierrez, who now has 1,768 yards passing, threw a beautiful 64-yard touchdown pass to Noah Hoffner.
“We got a one-on-one matchup, and I trust Noah against any corner in the conference,” Gutierrez said. “He’s such a great receiver. He goes up and gets the balls. I put it up and let him make a play.”
“We knew coming in that he was a good quarterback,” Williamsburg coach Ryan Hileman said. “He can move in the pocket, and he can avoid pressure. He was just able to make plays.”
The Pirates went on a 13-play drive from their 35 to the West Branch 5, but on the 14th play, Herring intercepted sophomore quarterback Lambert Palmer and returned it 60 yards to the Pirate 40. It was one of three West Branch pickoffs.
On the next play, Gutierrez connected with Eddie Dale on another beauty for a touchdown.
“Eddie is just as good,” Gutierrez said. “I trust my guys wholeheartedly.”
With 50 seconds to go in the first, it was 20-0.
“We talked about coming out strong,” Hubler said. “We really haven’t done that at all this year. On paper, you probably would have said it was two even teams. So, it was going to be a game of momentum early. It was exactly the start we were looking for.”
Gutierrez completed three passes on the next series, including two to Hoffner, who had five receptions for 131 yards, before Aidan Kephart scored on a 1-yard run.
The Pirates controlled the ball early, and they finally scored when Palmer threw a 20-yard TD pass to Adam Uplinger with 5:58 left in the half.
West Branch soccer player and football kicker Sarah Betts booted a 21-yard field goal with 2:53 left in the half to make the score 30-8.
The only score in the second half came when Herring scampered 40 yards to the end zone with 7:12 left in the game.
“It was nice to be on the other side in the second half,” Hubler said. “Unfortunately, we’ve had the talk at halftime this year about winning the second half because we were down. We had the exact same talk but on the plus side tonight. We didn’t want to take our foot off of the pedal.”
The Warriors will be back in action next week at Northern Bedford.