Chandler Basha coach Tim McBurney received a water cooler shower after his team beat visiting Gilbert 31-6 in Friday's 5A Central Region opener for both teams.
None of the Bears wanted to douse Michael Benjamin in fear of cooling off the senior quarterback.
Benjamin accounted for more than 300 yards of offense as the Bears (3-1, 1-0) dominated from the start. He threw a pair of first-half scores and ran for another as Basha put the game away early with a 24-0 halftime lead.
"Our defense has been playing so great all season, we knew offensively we had to step it up," said Benjamin, who finished 15 of 22 for 283 yards through the air.
"We knew they would man us up and put eight in the box. Our receivers ran great routes and the line blocked."
Basha's defense continued its strong season by limiting Gilbert to 33 yards rushing on 21 attempts. The only score for the Tigers (0-4, 0-1) came on a 41-yard tipped pass from Brandon Bialkowski to Jesse Brantley in the game's final 10 minutes.
"We knew they were a good team coming in here," Gilbert coach Dan Dunn said. "But they are even better than we thought. They are big, and run the ball and play defense. And their quarterback is just great."
McBurney said his team has struggled scoring when it gets in the red zone. Benjamin made sure that didn't happen against the Tigers.
Benjamin started the scoring with a 63-yard pass to Richard Parker on Basha's fourth play of the game. Parker finished with four catches for 117 yards.
Basha went up 14-0 following a fumble recovery that led to a 40-yard pass from Benjamin to Clay Karger.
Gilbert's best first-half scoring chance ended with the Bears blocking a 31-yard field goal attempt and returning it to the Tigers' 43. Two plays later Benjamin broke a tackle in the backfield and raced 25 yards for a score and a 21-0 advantage.
Benjamin finished the first half 9-for-13 for 211 yards and also had 50 yards rushing.
"We finally started to click on offense," said McBurney, whose team also rushed for 135 yards. "We've been moving the ball, but tonight we put points on the board."
Basha's final score came on a 27-yard pass from Benjamin to Dejon Walker late in the third quarter. From there the reserves took over.
"This was a team effort," Benjamin said. "We all played well and showed what we are capable of doing."
LIVE IN-GAME UPDATES
Basha 7, Gilbert 0. Mike Benjamin completes a 63-yd pass to Richard Parker for a Bears touchdown in the first quarter.
After the teams swap fumbles, Mike Benjamin hits Clay Karger on a 40-yard TD to make it 14-0 Basha.
Mike Benjamin scores on a 25-yard run and it's now 21-0 Basha over Gilbert in the middle of the second quarter.
Mike Benjamin throws a 27-yard TD pass to Dejon Walke to extend Basha's lead to 31-0 as the fourth quarter gets under way.
Gilbert finally gets on the board on a 41-yard pass from Brandon Bialkowski to Jesse Brantley. Basha leads 31-6 in the fourth quarter.
Gilbert (0-3) vs. Basha (2-1)
Time: 7 p.m.
Address: 5990 S. Val Vista Drive, Chandler
Key matchup: Gilbert front seven vs. Basha ground game. Tigers must plug gaping holes that victimized them in last week’s second half.
Key stat: Gilbert has five-game losing streak dating back to last season
The intrigue: With region play beginning, it’s a second chance for Gilbert to get something going. Can the Tigers do it against team with the best record in the region so far?