Zurowski wings it well, powers No. 1 Panthers

The quarterback in a double-wing offense often throws as many blocks as passes.

But Palo Verde senior Kelly Zurowski made a bigger impact with his arm Friday.

Zurowski threw two first-half touchdown passes to help the top-ranked Panthers take an early lead on the way to a 34-6 road victory over sixth-ranked Del Sol.

“We have great running backs, and they set up the run and the safeties come up,” said Zurowski, who completed 5 of 7 passes for 120 yards. “And Coach just calls great plays at the right time. And that’s what it’s about.”

Palo Verde (3-0) led 7-6 when the first of those great plays occurred. Zurowski threw a long pass to Torin Harris, who made a juggling catch for a 52-yard touchdown with 2:01 to go in the first quarter.

Then on Palo Verde’s first possession of the second quarter, Zurowski hit Alex Bonczyk with a 35-yard TD pass to put the Panthers up 21-6.

Zurowski also made a key 22-yard completion to Bonczyk on fourth-and-9 that set up Sidney Hodge’s 1-yard TD run in the fourth quarter. Zurowski has hit 10 of 14 passes for 250 yards and five scores this season.

“It’s nice when your quarterback and your top receiver are best friends,” Palo Verde coach Darwin Rost said of Zurowski and Bonczyk. “I think they spend a lot of time on Saturday and Sunday throwing the football, and you can tell.”

Zurowski also stood out at defensive back. He returned an interception 22 yards for a touchdown to finish the scoring and made some key tackles early in the game. His tackle for a loss forced Del Sol to punt on its first drive.

“Everybody credits him offensively, but how about his defense?” Rost said.

Zurowski also went head-to-head with 230-pound Del Sol fullback Jon Kirschbaum.

“He made huge solo tackles on a back that, heck, I’m 40 years old and I’m intimidated by him,” Rost said. “(Kirschbaum) is hooked up, and Kelly is singly tackling him. That’s where I’m impressed with Kelly more than anything.”

In the first quarter, Kirschbaum had a 58-yard run that set up a 9-yard touchdown dash by Jordan Molina that cut the Palo Verde lead to 7-6. But the Panthers clamped down on defense, holding Del Sol (2-1) to 57 yards the rest of the game.

“They were running all over us, too,” Rost said. “But credit to the defensive staff. They settled those kids down and went back and did what we practiced all week.”

Though the passing game was working, the Panthers didn’t abandon the run. They rushed for 198 yards, led by Chaz Thomas with 142 yards on 13 carries. His 50-yard run led to a 3-yard TD run by Tyrone Blake in the first quarter.

The win over Del Sol could set the tone for next week’s matchup with No. 2 Cheyenne.

“I hope so,” Zurowski said. “But Cheyenne is a good team. We need to practice hard for them. This game’s over with.”