Broken collarbone for future WSU quarterback

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Cardinal Gibbons quarterback and Washington State verbal commit Peyton Bender helplessly watched his team lose 71-24 in the District 16-5A championship to Plantation American Heritage on Friday night. Wearing a Cougars cap instead of a helmet, Bender stood on the sideline with a sling on his left arm and ice on his shoulder.

He exited the game with a fractured collarbone with 6:20 remaining in the first half on a 1-yard run while avoiding pressure from the defensive line.

"I got hit and at first it hurt kind of bad but I felt like I could shrug it off," Bender said. "I said I was fine. I went under my shoulder pad and felt it. I could feel the bone. That's when I knew I should probably come out."

Trainers told Bender he'd have to see a doctor to determine if surgery is needed. If so, that would mean 6-8 weeks before he can begin lifting again.

"Hopefully it'll be good for next year," Bender said.

After the game, players and coaches from the Patriots (9-1, 3-0) offered their well wishes to the senior, whose season and high school career ended prematurely.

"I expected the offense to come out," said American Heritage coach Mike Rumph, who played for the University of Miami in the early 2000s. "They have some good guys, and the quarterback -- I can't say enough about him."

With time away from the physical aspect of the game in order to heal, Bender said he can reflect on what he needs to improve on.

Bender said the biggest things are his preparation and movement.

"I think I prepare well, but I think there's a few times they show stuff out there and I was kind of guessing," Bender said. "Working my receivers as much as I did. I worked them a lot, but you can never work with them too much.

"That and working on getting out on the run a little bit and throwing on the run. I didn't do it much this year. That's something I can work on. That's probably one of the biggest ones."

In fact, on one instance during the first quarter of Friday's game, Bender moved around in the pocket and couldn't find a target open. Instead of taking off running with open field ahead of him, he threw the ball away.

Prior to the play that injured him, three of his passes were dropped. He was sacked three times. On the first he eluded a few tacklers and then couldn't get rid of the ball. The next he held on too long with tight coverage downfield. On the final one a man came unblocked on a blitz.

Like the previous week's struggles in a 16-10 loss to Blanche Ely, Bender's start couldn't have been any worse.

His first two passes were intercepted and returned for touchdowns as his Chiefs (7-2, 2-1) trailed 20-0 just 2:40 into the game.

Seniors Juwan Dowels and Brandon Vicens picked off Bender's throws from 24 and 25 yards out, respectively. On the next drive a defender dropped an interception.

"The first one the ball slipped out of my hand and sailed on me and it went right to the corner," Bender said. "On the second one we had a shallow crossing route and my receiver got bumped off his route and I tried to anticipate the throw, but he got bumped and went to the other man."

Bender, who finished 9 of 18 with 103 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions, rebounded before the injury.

Cardinal Gibbons responded with a touchdown drive to cut the deficit to 20-7 on sophomore Deon McIntosh's 15-yard touchdown run. The Chiefs later manufactured a 12-play, 80-yard drive that culminated on Bender's 30-yard touchdown pass to senior Christian Blake on fourth-and-17.

Heritage's corners pressed and then bailed on the snap of the ball, showing man before running to quarters coverage with four deep, trying to confuse the Gibbons offense.

If vertical routes were covered, Bender made his check downs, which included seniors George Rushing and Trevon Lee running 10 yards and turning their heads for a quick slant.

"It was nothing I hadn't done before," Bender said. "I just had to regroup. A bad throw and an unfortunate play. It didn't really startle me or anything. I just had to go back in, get my groove. We started moving the ball a little bit.

"It's just unfortunate, but I've got to come back from this."

Bender's stats Friday: 9 of 18 for 103 yards, 1 TDs, 2 INTs, 3 sacks

Bender's stats for the season: 167 of 256 for 2,184 yards, 28 TDs, 6 INTs, 15 sacks

Cougfan Top Stories