It sure helps a quarterback when he’s not having to run for his life.
Kevin Cullen, pressed into duty at quarterback with starter Danny Peters out with a concussion, completed 16 of 18 passes for 206 yards Friday to lead Palo Alto (4-2, 1-1) to a 42-9 victory over Santa Clara in a Santa Clara Valley Athletic League De Anza Division game.
Even with starting running back Josh Butler sitting out a second game due to a shoulder injury, the Vikings were able to run enough, with Creighton Morgenfeld gaining 52 yards on 11 carries and Cullen adding another 55 yards, to slow the Santa Clara pass rush and give Cullen ample time to pick out receivers. He threw three first-half touchdown passes, one each to Colin Giffen, Junacio Henley and Jamir Shepard.
“We have so many weapons I can spread it around,’’ Cullen said. “I owe Lou a TD next week.’’
He was speaking of tight end Lou Passsarello, not wanting the big guy to feel left out.
Morgenfeld got the scoring started with a 27-yard run for a touchdown. Giffen added two touchdowns in a 29-second span -- a 65-yard interception return and a 25-yard reception -- as Paly took a 22-0 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Henley’s 16-yard TD reception and Shepard’s 15-yarder made it 35-0 late in the second quarter.
Santa Clara (4-2, 1-1) kicked a field goal right before halftime, but then Henley returned the second-half kickoff 85 yards for a touchdown and a running clock went into effect, giving Paly the opportunity to ensure everyone saw some playing time.
“It was really fun, especially when the starters were cheering for the guys in reserve roles,’’ Palo Alto coach Nelson Gifford said.
The defense played a strong game. Alfredo Jack and Brody Simison had interceptions, Joey Passarello a sack and Max Giovonnato a fumble recovery.
Cullen had one regret -- as the team’s only healthy quarterback he wasn’t allowed to play safety, his preferred position.
“I’m definitely a defensive guy first,’’ he said. “But we had a lot of guys step up.’’