BURBANK — While in control by the end of the first half of Thursday night’s Pacific League opener, the Burbank High football team wasn’t as dominant over the first 24 minutes as its three-touchdown lead might have suggested.
A resurgent Hoover squad had been shut out on the scoreboard, but had plenty of positives to build on in the second half. That effort never got going once the third quarter started, however, as the Bulldogs stunned the Tornadoes with three unanswered touchdowns that completely took the Tornadoes out of their game and turned the contest into a one-sided 48-7 affair.
“We were just trying to pound the ball, we just ran it up the middle,” said Bulldogs tailback Teddy Arlington, who rushed for 166 yards in 10 carries, including a 48-yard score on the first play of the team’s second possession of the third that made it 35-0. “The linemen really held those blocks and made big holes. All we had to do was run as fast as we could.”
Burbank (2-2) made no bones about its intentions to start the third, going to a no-receiver set and letting its sturdy offensive line decide the game. On just the second play after recovering the second-half onside kickoff, the Bulldogs went up, 28-0, on a 52-yard run by James Williams, who totaled 125 yards and two touchdowns in just nine carries.
“That onside kick and that score really took the wind out of our sails a little bit,” said Hoover Coach Andrew Policky, whose team fell to 2-2 after winning its first two games. “That’s something that we need to learn from. We just can’t let momentum swings like that just take everything out of us. We’ve got to keep fighting and keep improving and I think tonight was a learning experience for us.”
Arlington’s first score of the third quarter was followed by a nine-yard run from Williams at the 3:45 mark of the third quarter to cap a nine-play, 80-yard drive that began with an interception of Hoover quarterback Se Jun Kim in the end zone by Joshua Nersissian.
Hoover didn’t score its first touchdown until the 11:56 mark of the fourth quarter, on a one-yard lunge by Jesse Pina (110 yards rushing in 24 carries) to cap a 10-play, 60-yard drive, by which point Burbank had a 41-7 lead and a running clock.
Hoover moved the ball well in the first half, gaining 137 total yards with 123 coming on the ground.
“They were definitely able to advance the ball on us, they took advantage of their big running back and kind of got some holes and were able to get first downs and really put a threat on us,” Burbank Coach Hector Valencia said. “I was really impressed with their offense. We stopped them, but it was work.”
The Tornadoes had nine first downs in the half and got inside the Bulldogs’ two-yard line twice, but came up empty on both of their first-half red-zone opportunities. The first proved to be crucial, as Burbank’s defense held on four straight downs starting on first and goal from the four to stuff Zach Hanson’s run from fourth and goal at the two on the one-yard line.
“We’re close to being a good football team, I just think we don’t believe in ourselves just quite yet,” Policky said. “A play here and a play there and we were right in that football game in the first half.”
Burbank, which opened the scoring with a one-yard run by Arlington on the first possession of the game with just under two minutes elapsed, then lost the ball after getting it back on downs on the goal line stand when Alvin Kim recovered a fumble at midfield. But the Tornadoes couldn’t move the ball and had to punt back to the Bulldogs, who drove 77 yards for a 26-yard touchdown pass from Ryan Meredith to Arlington with 7:25 left in the first quarter for a 14-0 lead.
With 3:53 to go, Burbank’s Damien Lopez recovered a fumble by Hoover starting quarterback Brendon Kerr and retuned it 32 yards for a touchdown. Kerr injured his knee while being tackled on a run near the sideline in the closing seconds of the first half and did not play in the second.