Forget taking a monkey off your back. Brandon Jones picked the monkey up, rolled to his right and threw him 65 yards for a touchdown.
Bakersfield Christian routed Wasco 47-20 at home on Friday night, beating the Tigers for the first time in five years behind six Jones touchdown passes and a defensive performance that made Wasco's terrific running attack look ordinary.
"I'm just really, really proud of the kids," BCHS coach Jerald Pierucci said. "They believed we could do this. It's not even really a surprise. We knew how good of a team we can be. And we're still not there yet."
This week, they were plenty good enough. Wasco (5-2, 2-1 South Sequoia League) scored on its first possession, but BCHS answered when Jones tossed his first touchdown pass, a 7-yarder to Zach Balfanz. He added two long strikes to Josh Jackson before halftime, a 37-yarder and an 83-yard bomb that gave the Eagles a 21-14 lead before halftime.
But the third quarter is where Jones, who finished 18-of-37 passing for 393 yards, and the Eagles (5-2, 4-0) really pulled away. He hit Balfanz for 44 yards on the second play of the second half, then completed a swing pass to Donald Harris, who took it 26 yards to the end zone.
Wasco, which lost star running back Isaiah Sharp to injury on the final play of the first half, went three-and-out. The Tigers' punt was blocked, and Jones hit Balfanz fora 27-yard touchdown pass on the next play. The rout was on.
"It was a good old-fashioned butt-whipping," said Wasco coach Rusvel Prado, whose team had won 18 of its previous 19 games. "They took it to us in every aspect of the game. It had better be a wake-up call. It's gut-check time for Wasco football."
Sharp ran for 105 yards on 16 carries in the first half but was hurt playing defense. Prado called the injury a separated shoulder and said Sharp would be out two or three weeks.
Sharp was missed on offense, but his absence was perhaps felt more in the defensive secondary. Without him, the Tigers' pass defense, already leaky in the first half, became almost non-existent after halftime.
"We had some confusion back there, and it didn't help when Sharpie went out," Prado said. "But hats off to Bakersfield Christian. They took it to us."
Jones' day could have been even bigger; several times, he barely overshot wide-open receivers. As it was, his final touchdown pass couldn't have been easier: No Wasco defender was within 20 yards of Tyler Lazano, who jogged in for a 65-yard score that made it 47-14 on the first play of the fourth quarter.
Jones, a junior who transferred from Bakersfield High, now has 28 touchdown passes and 2 interceptions on the season.
"Brandon is able to do so much more offensively than he could even a few weeks ago," Pierucci said. "Our receivers are making plays, and the kids I'm really proud of are our offensive linemen, who protected him so well."
Matt Smith added 87 yards and a touchdown rushing for the Eagles, who now have control of the SSL race with just two games remaining and perhaps the inside track to a top seed in the Central Section Division IV playoffs after an 0-2 start.
"It's taken some time for us to get it going, but people don't realize how fast we play," Pierucci said. "If you're not used to it, it gasses you. And then (Sean) Lazano, my defensive coordinator, put together a heck of a gameplan, and then the kids executed everything to a T."