Visalia Mt. Whitney incurred 22 penalties and scored 56 points Friday night.
If not for the yellow flags, the Pioneers' point total would have been in the 70's. As it was, all four of Anthony Valencia's catches came on first-half touchdown passes from quarterback Jaedyn Pineda as Mt. Whitney routed Santa Maria 56-15 in a non-league game between CIF Central Section Division III teams at the Saints' Ralph Baldiviez Stadium.
The Pioneers are 3-2. The Saints are 2-3. Mt. Whitney's two losses came by three points each against Tulare Western and Tulare Union, both of which were unbeaten going into action Friday night.
"They're a good team,' Santa Maria coach Dan Ellington said of the Pioneers. "They're ranked No. 209 in the state."
Mt. Whitney's Mike McKernan scored the last touchdown on a 39-yard run and Jason Garcia capped off his eight-for-eight night on PATs, with the point-after kick for the last score of the game with six minutes left.
The rest of the game was played with a running clock. Still, the game took more than three hours as the teams combined for 30 penalties. The Pioneers incurred four personal fouls, some of which drew the ire of some Santa Maria assistant coaches.
A holding call on the first play from scrimmage wiped out a would-be 65-yard touchdown run around end by Mt. Whitney's Zack Reza.
The only thing that slowed the Mt. Whitney offense in the first half was penalties. Still, the Pioneers led 35-15 at halftime.
Besides the four Pineda touchdown tosses to Valencia, Mt. Whitney defensive lineman Juan Gomez scooped the ball up after Santa Maria quarterback Dominick Martinez fumbled the snap on fourth and goal from the 1 and ran 97 yards for a score.
Garcia's conversion kick made it 21-0. Sammy Herrera took the ensuing kickoff and burst 99 yards up the middle for Santa Maria's first touchdown.
The Saints recovered an onside kick, but Pineda picked off a batted Martinez pass.
Kenny Dato ran 35 yards for Santa Maria's second score, Kenneth Olpindo ran in the two-point conversion on a fake PAT to make it 28-15, and that was about it for the Santa Maria highlights.
"The first half, we ran the ball pretty well. The O line did a good job," said Ellington.
"Sammy was about the only offense we had in the first half. In the second half, they made a couple of adjustments and we didn't make ours."
Herrera ran for 105 yards in the first half. His rushing total stayed at 105 for the night. He was the only Santa Maria player with any pass receptions. Herrera caught three passes for a total of 30 yards.
With three lost fumbles, the Saints had four turnovers. The Pioneers didn't have any.
Mt. Whitney's second half touchdowns came on a 31-yard pass from Pineda to John Hadley, Pineda's 32-yard run and the McKernan 39-yarder.
The Pioneers came into the game averaging 308 yards passing and 87 yards rushing. They wound up with 254 yards passing and 208 yards rushing Friday night.
Mt. Whitney lost 41 yards on the ground because of two bad snaps from shotgun formation. Reza was the Pioneers' leading rusher with 82 yards.
Hadley led the receivers with 107 yards in receptions. He caught four passes.
Santa Maria has a bye next week. The Saints open Ocean League play by hosting Nipomo at 7 p.m. Sept. 28.
Orcutt Academy 54, Lebec Frazier Mountain 6
LEBEC - The Spartans (3-1, 1-0) won their inaugural Central Sierra League game in a rout in this eight-man game.
Alex Sutton ran for 130 yards and a score for the first-year CIF Central Section members. He also caught a pass for one touchdown and returned an interception for another.
Max Daniels threw for two scores and ran for another. Josiah DeBruno caught a touchdown pass, went five-for-six on PATs and put five kickoffs into the end zone for touchbacks.
Tyler Zafiris had two quarterback sacks for the Spartans.