PALMDALE — Highland coach Richard Lear said on the eve of the playoffs that his team would go as far as Isaiah Creech would take them.
If Friday night was an indication of just how far that will be, Lear and the Bulldogs just might find themselves in another deep playoff run.
Creech scored four touchdowns in the first half to lead the Bulldogs to a surprisingly easy 58-28 win over Bonita in a CIF-Southern Section Division 9 first round game at Highland. Creech finished with 164 yards rushing and 131 yards receiving.
“We talked about it all week long about how we wanted to finish strong,” Creech said. “We have a lot of faith in our coaches and we are going to continue to work hard. It was a good start.”
Not all went right for the Bulldogs (8-3) in the first half.
With less than four minutes to go in the second quarter, Highland senior Darius Wilson caught a short pass from Damien Pecoraro. Wilson was involved in an altercation with a Bonita defender after the play and was kicked out of the game.
Wilson will also have to sit out next week’s second round game against Lakewood. Lakewood advanced by beating Brea Olinda, 35-34.
Along with being one of the top Highland receivers, Wilson is also a standout defensive end. He leads the team with 11 sacks.
Earlier in the half, Wilson had a 49-yard touchdown pass from Pecoraro.
“Someone was turning on his ankle in the pile and he kicked the guy off him,” Lear said. “We tell our guys all the time that they always catch the second guy. He is one of our best guys.”
Creech wasted little time getting the Bulldogs on the board, taking a Pecoraro swing pass for 24 yards and a touchdown with 9:45 left in the first quarter. Joshua Clark ran it in from the Bulldogs’ wing offense for the 2-point conversion, giving Highland an 8-0 lead.
Creech had scoring plays of 51, 76 and 55 yards in the half.
“He is such a special player,” Lear said. “We are going to lean on him the rest of the way.”
Pecoraro had his best statistical game of the season, throwing for 342 yards and four touchdowns. He also ran it in from 7 yards for another score in the second quarter.
As well as the Bulldogs played on offense, their defense was also up for the challenge. Bonita entered the game scoring 33 points and gaining 342 yards a game.
The Bulldogs pressured Bonita quarterback Sean Jastrab all night, forcing him to throw two interceptions and a fumble in the first half. Jastrab entered the game with 2,401 yards with 24 touchdowns and only four interceptions.
Highland’s Jordan Pulliam had the second interception, returning it 55 yards for Highland’s last score of the night with less than two minutes to go in the first half. It was Pulliam’s second interception of the season.