PASADENA — Don’t tell the Burroughs High or Pasadena football teams that it’s very likely neither will be participating in this year’s CIF Southern Section playoffs.
For one Friday evening, the Pacific League rivals put on a postseason-like show as the host Bulldogs held off a steely effort from the Indians for a 35-32 victory.
With the loss, Burroughs drops to 2-7 and 2-4 in league heading into Friday’s ‘Big Game’ against archrival Burbank (6-3, 5-1). Pasadena (5-4, 3-3) has its own city showdown versus Muir (6-3, 3-3) in the Turkey Tussle.
“It was a football game, a good football game, one of the few good ones we’ve had this year,” Burroughs first-year coach Rand Holdren said. “There’s not many football games left these days because it’s either 48-0 or 0-60 or whatever. I thought it was a fun game to be a part of.”
Burroughs sophomore running back Luke Rogers led his squad with 25 carries for 112 yards and one touchdown, while quarterback Nathan Piper completed 16 of 25 passes for 126 yards and two touchdowns with one interception. Piper also rushed 11 times for 70 yards.
Indians receiver Ellington Simmons hauled in three receptions for 41 yards, including an amazing one-handed touchdown catch in the third quarter.
Those efforts were not enough to overcome the stellar performance from Pasadena senior running back Malachi Langley, who carried 26 times for 218 yards with two touchdowns and one fumble.
Burroughs last led after Rogers punched in a one-yard touchdown with 7:34 left to give the Indians a 25-21 advantage.
The visitors missed on a two-point conversion try, which marked their third consecutive touchdown in which they failed to convert either a one- or two-point conversion.
That advantage lasted 14 seconds, as Pasadena’s Mekhi Fox returned the ensuing kickoff 75 yards for the go-ahead touchdown as the Bulldogs surged ahead, 28-25.
Burroughs attempted a rally, but Pasadena’s Nicholas Benson intercepted a pass to give the Bulldogs the ball on their 29.
On the next play, Langley broke a 71-yard touchdown run to give the Bulldogs a 35-25 lead with 6:01 remaining.
“We had a little of everything tonight,” Holdren said. “We scored and they housed the kickoff and that was brutal for us, but I thought our guys fought and I thought our guys left it all on the field.”
Burroughs responded late with a two-yard touchdown run from Alex Deptula with 31 seconds left to climb to within 35-32.
However, the Indians’ comeback try ended when an onside kick attempt was recovered by Langley at midfield.
Burroughs trailed, 14-13, at the half with its scores coming on a 16-yard touchdown pass from Piper to Simmons and a 78-yard fumble return for a touchdown from Alex Perez.
The Indians’ gave away 14 points via two blocked punts in the first half, one of which was returned by Akil Andrews for a 20-yard touchdown and the second that gave the Bulldogs the ball at the Indians’ 20.
Burroughs took its first lead, 19-14, on a spectacular one-handed 15-yard touchdown catch from Simmons with 2:49 left in the third quarter.
“It was fun tonight because this was my first varsity game where we were in it until the end,” Rogers said. “It was a great experience.”
Friday evening was not all laughs, however, as the game was delayed 27 minutes as Burroughs senior Kyle Heyman was injured at the eight-minute mark of the third quarter and was taken off the field via an ambulance.