BURBANK — Though short-handed, the Burbank High football team continued to trudge through its rough patches as the Bulldogs faced the No. 1 seed Serrano High in the CIF Southern Section Division VII quarterfinal at Memorial Field on Friday.
The eight-seeded Bulldogs were out-sized and out-manned against the Diamondbacks, but nonetheless, Burbank stayed within one score of Serrano at the half.
Burbank put together big plays in the second half of the quarterfinal, but fell short of completing the rally as top-seeded Serrano came out with a 35-13 victory to advance to its second straight semifinal.
“The way they fought, they never quit,” Burbank coach Adam Colman said. “That’s what you love about football. It’s a parallel for life. [There’s] ups and downs, highs and lows.
"[We] got off to a tough start, played some really good competition, had a little run in league, then hit some rough spots, then got into the playoffs, won a game and battled the No. 1-seed. It’s highs and lows and it’s never quitting, and that resiliency is something I’m proud of them for.”
The No. 8 Bulldogs (5-7; third in Pacific League) were again without starting quarterback Aram Araradian, who was still sidelined with a shoulder injury sustained against Muir in a Pacific League contest on Oct. 14.
Colman turned to third-string quarterback Vincent Vang for the second straight game after the Bulldogs defeated Don Lugo in the Division VII first round, 40-20.
Vang, whose usual positions are running back and safety, threw for 111 yards and two touchdowns on 10-of-16 passing and carried the ball 12 times for 87 yards.
Burbank receiver Ben Burnham caught two passes for 36 yards and a touchdown and junior wide-out Brandon Pena grabbed three receptions for 67 yards and a score.
The Diamondbacks remain undefeated with a 12-0 record and were led by quarterback Parker Chaffee, who ran the ball six times for 108 yards and two touchdowns.
Serrano running back Joseph Zuniga also scored twice in 10 carries and 64 yards rushing, and running back Wakhill Sullivan tacked on 81 yards in 13 carries.
“I’m happy I don’t have to see [Vincent Vang] again,” Serrano coach Casey Maholchic said. “What a great little player. I knew coming into this game that this would be a physical football game. My hats off to Burbank. Gosh dang, what a physical football team. They gave us pretty much everything we could handle. We’re fortunate enough just to be on the other end.”
After a Burbank three-and-out, Serrano completed a fourth-down conversion with an 18-yard keep from Chaffee on its opening possession. The Diamondbacks followed with a one-yard run from Cade Beaujean for a 7-0 lead with 4:54 left in the first.
On its next possession, Chaffee ran in a one-yard score to give Serrano 14-0 lead at 8:56 in the second.
Efforts to penetrate the Serrano defensive line in the first fell short for the Burbank run game, which had 13 yards rushing on its first two drives.
“We’re not usually great with first halves,” Vang said. “We’re always that one team that comes out of the second half and just start rolling. We took advantage of that, and our offense started running while our defense made a great stop. We started passing and doing everything we can. It seemed to work.”
After the Bulldogs turned the ball over on downs on the Diamondbacks 32-yard line, Jarren Flowers intercepted a Chaffee pass attempt to set up Burbank at its 47.
With 23.9 second left in the half on the ensuing drive, Burbank’s punt attempt was called back with a roughing-the-passer penalty on Serrano. One play later, Vang connected with Pena for a 29-yard touchdown and sliced the Serrano lead to 14-6 after the missed extra-point attempt with 6.6 left in the half.
The Diamondbacks struck first in the second half with another one-yard keep from Chaffee to take a 21-6 lead with 3:42 left in the third.
Burbank followed and scored on its next possession at the start of the fourth quarter with a 26-yard diving catch from Burnham as the Bulldogs trailed the Diamondbacks, 21-13, at 11:44 in the frame.
Serrano answered right back after 47-yard carry from Chaffee set up Zuniga for his first rushing touchdown with a 30-yard score for a 28-13 lead with 9:20 left.
On a crucial fourth-down conversion with six minutes remaining, Vang completed a pass to Burnham in the slot that saw the receiver fall in the end zone. But the play was called back for a holding penalty committed on the outside receiver.
"[Serrano] is really good and really aggressive,” Vang said. “They just overplayed us and were better, but we had some mental mistakes and we couldn’t just finish. [That] was hard. If we had scored on that touchdown that was called back, it would’ve been a different game.”
The Bulldogs failed to convert after the penalty, and after turning the ball over on downs, Joseph Zuniga ran 24-yards to the far side of the end zone to extend the Diamondbacks lead, 35-13, with 3:07 left.