Palo Verde starts off season with 56-0 win over shocked Reno

With three blockers in front of him and a clear sideline in sight, Palo Verde running back Chaz Thomas turned the corner and took off.

There was no catching him.

Thomas sprinted 59 yards for a touchdown as defenders fell at his heels.

It was one of several plays on the Panthers’ highlight reel Friday night, as they opened the season by rolling over visiting Reno, 56-0.

“We come out here and think that we’re going to beat anybody. That’s what we always do,” Thomas said. “It was a little bit easier than I expected.

“We just had too much speed for them to overcome. We’ve got so much speed on this team, I don’t even know who’s going to contain us.”

It was over in a hurry for the Huskies, who trailed 28-0 at halftime and were facing a long trip home.

Palo Verde scored on its first possession when senior quarterback Kelly Zurowski hit Torin Harris with a 15-yard touchdown pass to cap a five-play, 55-yard drive.

Zurowski struck again with five minutes left in the first quarter. He connected with senior tight end Alex Bonczyk for a 50-yard touchdown.

Zurowski fired a pass over the middle, Bonczyk made a fingertip grab in stride at the 20 and jogged into the end zone.

A 10-yard touchdown run by Sidney Hodge, followed by Thomas’ 2-point conversion run, made it 21-0 midway through the second quarter.

Bonczyk added a 67-yard interception return for a score with 1:49 left in the half.

“I was really impressed with the way we came out in the second half and got real, real physical,” Panthers coach Darwin Rost said. “(Reno) is going to win a lot of games this year. I just don’t think they’re ready for the kind of speed we put on the field.

“It’s almost like a broken record because we talk speed, speed, speed.”

Thomas, a 5-foot-10-inch, 215-pound senior, carried the ball only four times for 80 yards. But he left an impression with his long touchdown run on the first series of the third quarter.

Tyrone Blake scored on runs of 4 and 5 yards in the third quarter, and backup quarterback Jahari Selmon finished the scoring with a 2-yard run with 4:35 remaining.

The Huskies, 9-3 last year, had suffered enough, so most of the fourth quarter was played with a running clock.

Palo Verde used 10 ball carriers to total 324 yards rushing, while Zurowski completed 3 of 4 passes for 101 yards.

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