Emotions ran high after the Burbank High football team finished singing their alma mater after their first game of the season at Memorial Field on Friday.
In a nonleague game against Moorpark, the Bulldogs fell short of rallying to tie the game — their chance denied on a strip-sack just 23 yards away from the end zone with 52 seconds left.
Though Burbank began its season with a14-7 loss, the positives outweighed the number of missed opportunities and false-start penalties the team endured.
That’s why the Bulldogs were so emotional.
“I can’t be more proud of my team,” Burbank quarterback Aram Araradian said. “Coming into the game, we weren’t even supposed to be this close, especially only by one touchdown. Seven-point deficit. I can’t be more proud of these guys.”
Araradian and his receiving core of Ben Burnham and Brandon Pena drove the Bulldogs down 63 yards to set up a potential game-tying touchdown at the Moorpark 23-yard line. However, the Muskateers found a gap in the offensive line and forced the Araradian to fumble.
“We had a huddle at the beginning of the drive and we were just talking, remembering all that work we put into spring ball, summer ball and training camp,” said Araradian of the Bulldogs’ final possession. “We all got motivated by it and we just drove down. We couldn’t finish it, but I liked what I saw.”
The Bulldogs had a promising start to the game against a CIF Southern Section Division III opponent that held a 37-0 lead at halftime last season.
On Burbank’s opening possession, the Bulldogs ate up 50 yards to plant itself in the Moorpark red zone before Araradian threw an interception to end the drive with 6:22 left in the opening quarter.
On its next drive, Burbank ended up in the Moorpark 19 before the Muskateers sacked Araradian to force the Bulldogs to punt and keep it scoreless with 3.5 seconds left in the first quarter.
“There’s some legit football players on that team,” Burbank coach Adam Colman said. “When you can line up with those guys and go head-to-head and toe-to-toe and know you probably should’ve won if you did a couple of things differently, you can never walk into a game scared or whatever.
“That’s why we schedule these teams. When you get to a playoff or league, we’ll know we can compete at the highest level.”
The Burbank offense was disrupted in the second quarter, when the Bulldogs recorded five false-start penalties at inopportune times late in their possessions.
The Bulldogs nearly drew first blood with 7:33 left in the half, but the hosts saw a 32-yard field-goal attempt go wide left.
Moorpark took advantage of Burbank’s missed chances on its ensuing possession and capped an 80-yard drive with a one-yard quarterback sneak from Blake Sturgill to give the Musketeers a 7-0 lead with 2:30 left in the half.
“We played to our strengths a little bit and didn’t shoot ourselves in the foot,” Moorpark coach Ryan Husienga said. “We just kind of got behind our offensive line a little bit and just kind of moved the ball on the ground and took advantage of our opportunities when they presented themselves.”
The Bulldogs got on board at 7:08 in the third quarter when Araradian threw a 31-yard touchdown pass to Pena to tie the game at 7. It was the only possession where Burbank didn’t record a false start.
“We’ve talked about it in the spring, summer and training camp — it’s the little things,” said Colman, whose team recorded 14 false-start penalties. “It’s attention to detail. It’s the minutia of it all. That’s the stuff that we tried emphasizing and it’s hard with young kids to get them paying attention to. These little things matter. These little things that you don’t think matter in big games, that’s the difference. Penalties and red zone efficiency killed us tonight.
“Overall, I can’t fault the heart they played with.”
The Musketeers completed a six-minute scoring drive with a 17-yard touchdown pass to receiver Ashton Benner to take the 14-7 lead with 4:01 remaining.
Araradian completed 14 of 29 passes for 226 yards, one touchdown and and two interceptions. Burnham caught six passes for 108 yards and Pena recorded six receptions for 109 yards and a touchdown. Running back Isaac Glover ran 78 yards in 18 carries.
Sturgill finished 14-of-29 passing for 147 yards and a touchdown pass to go along with a rushing touchdown for Moorpark.
“Burbank deserves all the credit in the world,” Husienga said. “They came out fired up and ready to play. They played physical. I thought they’re a lot more physical than they were last year. They’re really well-coached and I know they made some mistakes, but I think some of that was fatigue, first-game-of-the-season stuff. They’re going to be a handful when they get rolling.”