MEMORIAL FIELD — Despite being without an integral part of its offense on Thursday night, the Burbank High football team still showed why it's a strong contender to repeat as Pacific League champion.
And, when Hoover lost an even bigger catalyst of its own offense before halftime of a league game at Burroughs High's Memorial Field, so also went any chance of the Tornadoes getting back in the game.
Bulldogs quarterback Adam Colman passed for 203 yards and accounted for four total touchdowns in the absence of standout running back Ulisies Ochoa, who was injured in practice earlier in the week, as Burbank posted a 56-0 victory over a reeling Hoover squad that could never find an offensive rhythm.
"Without [Ochoa] that takes a lot away from our run game, that's our go-to guy, he's our workhorse," said Colman, whose efforts were bolstered by a 200-yard, two-touchdown rushing performance by Quortney Brazier. "We knew we could throw the ball, we've always been able to throw the ball and we just wanted to show that tonight and work on the game a little bit."
Hoover (1-6, 0-3 in league) lost starting quarterback AJ Pule late in the second quarter when he complained to Coach Chris Long of dizziness. Long said Pule later admitted to him that he thought he had been shaken up on a hit on the Tornadoes' first offensive series, but tried to remain in the game.
"When AJ came out of the game, that was pretty much all she wrote," Long said. "We didn't have success throwing the ball at first anyway, but with him out of the game, we couldn't really do anything and we couldn't really call any plays. It [narrowed] our offense down to a couple plays."
Burbank's swarming, blitzing defense gave Pule and the Tornadoes' entire offense problems from the beginning, limiting Hoover to three-and-outs on its first four possessions.
Meanwhile, Burbank (5-1, 3-0), ranked third in the CIF Southeast Division, got off to good start, driving 80 yards in just three plays to open the game with a 72-yard Brazier run followed by a four-yard scoring pass from Colman to Brazier.
The Bulldogs went up, 14-0, on a 63-yard drive finished off by a three-yard Brazier run at the 7:09 mark of the first quarter.
Burbank, which scored 56 points in the first half of its 56-8 win over Glendale last week, couldn't keep up its torrid offensive pace, though, as its next two drives stalled and ended with a punt and a missed 40-yard field goal attempt.
"We had some stops finally in the first quarter, but our offense struggled picking up their blitz," Long said.
Hoover saw Burbank go up, 21-0, with 9:28 left in the first half on a Colman pass to Ryan Thanaratnam (four catches for 97 yards), but continued to get breaks from the Bulldogs that allowed it to stay within striking distance.
Three false-start penalties gave Hoover its initial first downs of the first half, but just as they were about to cross midfield, the Tornadoes were victimized by a Joseph Argenziano interception. It wouldn't translate into points, though, as Hoover's defense came up with another third-down stop and went into the locker room still down by three touchdowns.
"We were not executing [in the first half]," said Burbank Coach Hector Valencia, whose team committed 13 penalties for 95 yards in the opening half. "We had a lot of dropped balls, we had a lot of plays called back. It's just not the way we wanted to come out and play. We should have done a better job.
"The second half, we turned it around, we started executing and that's our kind of football."
Burbank opened the second half with a defensive stop, followed by a tidy 60-yard scoring drive capped by a 17-yard run by Colman.
After another three-and-out followed by another Bulldogs scoring drive culminating in a 30-yard Colman pass to Jose Rodriguez, the game had truly slipped away from the Tornadoes.
The loss marked the first time Hoover had been shut out this season.
"They did an awesome job, they really did a great job preparing themselves," Valencia said of his defense. "They won the game for us. …They got a nice little shutout for themselves."