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In a thriller, Burroughs football edges rival Burbank in league finale

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Burroughs High’s Garcia tries to outrun Burbank’s Austin Blacano on a keeper during Friday’s Pacific League game.
(Miguel Vasconcellos)

BURBANK — One point separated the Burroughs High and Burbank football teams in the final two minutes of the annual “Big Game.”

After a late touchdown, the Indians were in a position to tie the score with a point-after kick, or potentially take the lead with a two-point conversion. Indians coach Rand Holdren was caught by surprise when some of his players uttered the words “go for two.”

Burroughs quarterback Nick Garcia looked to his left, planted his feet and threw a pass to receiver Elijah Aldana-Pere for the two-point conversion and suddenly, it was a one-point lead for Burroughs with just over a minute to play.

Though Burbank marched down the field into Burroughs territory and put itself in a position to tally the game-winning touchdown, the Indians held off the Bulldogs to win, 29-28, at Memorial Field on Friday.

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Burroughs’ Brandon Pena falls to the ground after pulling in a long pass while under pressure from Burroughs’ John Alajijian during Friday’s homecoming game at Memorial Field. (Photo by Miguel Vasconcellos)
(Miguel Vasconcellos/Burbank Leader)
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The win snapped a three-game skid for Burroughs in the annual cross-town clash.

When asked of what was the key component to the fourth-quarter success, Burroughs coach Rand Holdren repeated just one word: “Nick, Nick, Nick,” said Holdren, referring to his quarterback. “We decided we had to throw the ball. We knew that and I thought I would double up and send Nick out on the edge. He’s a talented guy. Just give him the ball.

“This is a huge team win. This is the best win we’ve had all year for numerous reasons. Getting Nick out on the edge is important. He’s an athlete and he took over some of the stuff. I love that.”

Burbank took a 21-13 lead early in the fourth quarter after a seven-yard run from Isaac Glover.

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Burroughs cut the Burbank lead to 21-19 with a 14-yard pass from Garcia to Carson Cardenaz. After a false-start penalty on the two-point conversion, the quarterback found his receiver again to complete the PAT and tie it at 21 with 4:24 remaining.

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Burroughs’ John Alajijian runs the ball on a keeper during Friday’s homecoming game against Burroughs at Memorial Field. (Photo by Miguel Vasconcellos)
(Miguel Vasconcellos/Burbank Leader)

“Coach said the team who wants it more is going to win,” Garcia said. “Burbank is amazing. They have a really good team. They’re well-coached. Coach was saying all week that we had to want it more than they do and we had to start on Monday. The game starts on Monday and the game didn’t start when it’s actually game time. We just worked all week.”

Two plays later, Burbank quarterback Kuba Raymond launched a pass down the middle to receiver Brandon Pena, who ran the distance for an 85-yard touchdown to give the Bulldogs a 28-21 advantage with 3:24 left.

The Indians got deep into Bulldogs territory ,aided a 35-yard catch from Aiden Forrester, who set up Garcia for a one-yard sneak to again slice the Burbank lead, this time to 28-27.

With 1:31 remaining, Garcia’s pass to Aldana-Pere gave Burroughs the one-point lead.

“Fight was what we wanted to do tonight and play the whole time,” Holdren said. “We did, man. We did. That was gutsy.”

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Burroughs’ Aiden Forrester pulls in a long pass while under heavy pressure form Burroughs’ Kaze Gibbs during Friday’s homecoming game at Memorial Field. (Photo by Miguel Vasconcellos)
(Miguel Vasconcellos/Burbank Leader)

The Indians defeated the Bulldogs for the first time since 2015, and it was their second victory in eight meetings.

With the win, Burroughs is hoping for a shot at an at-large berth into the CIF Southern Section Division XI playoffs with a 6-4 record to go along with a 2-4 showing in league.

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“We knew we had to win tonight,” Holdren said. “All week: win and in. Win and in. We like our chances with getting in.”

Garcia finished on 12-of-17 passing for 150 yards and two touchdowns to go along with 98 yards and a touchdown in 13 carries. Cardenaz caught five passes for 72 yards and two touchdowns.

Burbank running back Isaac Glover scored three touchdowns in 33 carries and 190 yards for the Bulldogs, and Pena caught six passes for 155 yards and a touchdown.

Burbank quarterback Kuba Raymond finished on eight-of-10 passing for 169 yards, an interception and a touchdown. Raymond started for junior Aram Araradian, who wasn’t at full strength due to a shoulder injury he sustained from a 20-15 loss to Muir on Oct. 14.

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Burroughs’ Isaac Glover is stopped by Burroughs’ Adrian Leon during Friday’s homecoming game at Memorial Field. (Photo by Miguel Vasconcellos)
(Miguel Vasconcellos/Burbank Leader)

Though suited up, Bulldogs coach Adam Colman didn’t want to risk further injury to his starting quarterback with the Division VII playoffs around the corner.

“Without our starting quarterback, Kuba did such an amazing job,” Colman said. “The whole game, we just ran the ball to ease him into it to get comfortable.

“When you go from an interception to an 85-yard to take the lead, and then they score, go for two to take the lead and he still drives us down ... for him to be composed in that situation to put together that drive to put us in that position, I can’t say enough of that kid. The whole team battled. I’m proud of them and my heart breaks for them.”

Burbank (4-6, 3-3) finishes third in league ahead of fourth-place Pasadena.

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“I’ve been there before, so this is a little all too familiar for me,” Colman said. “It sucks. My heart just breaks for the kids. They were resilient. They battled. They didn’t give up.”

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Burroughs’ Nicholas Garcia is tackled by Burroughs’ Shawn Wilson during Friday’s homecoming game at Memorial Field. (Photo by Miguel Vasconcellos)
(Miguel Vasconcellos/Burbank Leader)

Burbank’s first drive ended at 7:12 in the opening with an interception from Burroughs defensive back John Alajijian. The Indians, however, were unable to take advantage of the turnover.

A Burroughs fumble from Jon English was recovered by Max Mendieta and 13 plays later, Burbank scored on a 16-yard run from Glover to break the scoreless deadlock for a 7-0 lead at 8:33 in the second.

A 46-yard pass to Cardenaz set up a six-yard touchdown catch for Burroughs two plays later to tie the score at 7 with 4:26 left in the half.

On a quarterback sneak attempt, Raymond fumbled possession and Forrester recovered the ball and returned it for a 32-yard score and a 13-7 lead with 2:56 remaining in the half.

However, the Bulldogs responded with a 39-yard catch from Pena to set up Glover’s six-yard scoring run to regain the lead, 14-13, at 1:43.

The Indians marched down into Bulldogs’ territory to the 11-yard line, but Garcia’s fifth pass attempt was intercepted by Kaze Gibbs just before the half.

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Burroughs’ Isaac Glover breaks free from the grip of Burroughs’ Michael Pentland during Friday’s homecoming game at Memorial Field. (Photo by Miguel Vasconcellos)
(Miguel Vasconcellos/Burbank Leader)

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