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Burroughs wins title thriller

MEMORIAL FIELD — It was everything a genuine high school football rivalry game ought to be.

With a Pacific League championship crown on the line, along with cross-town bragging rights, the final game ever to be played at Memorial Field and homecoming celebrations for both teams, there certainly wasn’t anything small about the 2010 installment of the Big Game between Burroughs High and Burbank.

Both teams exchanged blows throughout the contest, but the knockout wasn’t delivered until the final 4.7 seconds.

Long after a furious come-from-behind rally by Burroughs, which trailed, 28-0, in the second quarter, the score was finally evened, 35-35. Then, Burroughs place kicker Cristobal Escobar went on the field for the single-most important attempt of his football career.

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All that stood in between Escobar and Big Game glory was a heroic boot from 21 yards out. Burbank Coach Hector Valencia iced Escobar with a timeout, just as Escobar footed the initial would-be game-winner.

It didn’t matter.

Escobar collected his composure and on the final play of the game, a fourth-down-and-one situation, he kicked the field goal straight through the uprights, giving Burroughs the win, 38-35.

“It’s the last time we’re going to play in this stadium, so it will stay in history, I guess,” Escobar said.

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With the win, Burroughs (6-4, 6-1 in league) captured its first back-to-back league title since the 1980-1981 seasons.

Burbank (7-3, 5-2) — which finishes third — rolled early on offense, ???scoring on each of its first three possessions.

First, it was Bulldogs quarterback Adam Colman finding wide receiver Ryan Thanaratnam on a 10-yard touchdown pass.

Then, Burbank running back Ulisies Ochoa took over. He scored on a three-yard rush, then on defense, added an interception of Indians’ quarterback Lucas Yanez, which he returned 38 yards for a touchdown. He also tallied another offensive touchdown on an eight-yard run.

Ochoa rushed for 194 yards in 36 carries.

“He powered the ball all over the place,” Valencia said.

With 7:58 to go before halftime, Burbank grasped a commanding 28-0 advantage.

“In the first half, we didn’t have a chance,” Burroughs Coach Keith Knoop said. “We’ve spotted teams points all year long and we’ve come back from it. We would’ve kicked their butt if we didn’t give them 28 points right out of the gate.”

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Burroughs wide receiver Matt Volland returned the kickoff following Ochoa’s third touchdown 60 yards to the Burbank 33-yard line.

On this Indians’ drive, running back Zander Anding rushed 14 yards for touchdown, giving Burroughs a much-needed glimmer of hope.

“The momentum changed in the first half when we actually got on the board,” Yanez said. “Their defense wasn’t big, bad like it has been all year. They’re tough and everything, but once we knew we could penetrate their defense, and get on the board, we knew it was going to be a long night and we were going to come back.”

Burbank’s offense stalled for the first time on its fourth possession when it was flagged for a false start on a fourth-and-one situation. Backed up to their own 38-yard line, the Bulldogs were forced to punt.

The Indians drove to the Burbank 20-yard line, then Yanez passed to tight end Nick Brown, who was wide open over the middle, for a touchdown.

The deficit was cut in half, 28-14, at intermission.

At the 5:17 mark of the third quarter, Lucas Yanez passed to his twin brother, Tyler, on a sensational 23-yard touchdown. Lucas Yanez scrambled right, eluded a would-be sack, then threw a laser in the right corner of the end zone to his brother, who had a defensive back draped on him. But he leapt in the air and came back down with the football.

"[Lucas] and Tyler have been playing catch since they came out of the womb,” Knoop said.

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The Burbank lead was cut to 28-21 following 21 unanswered points by Burroughs.

“We should have closed the deal and we didn’t,” Valencia said. “We knew that they were going to come back. There was no doubt in my mind.”

Colman responded for the Bulldogs on a one-yard keeper touchdown rush on the first play of the fourth quarter, giving Burbank a little breathing room, 35-21.

Colman finished 11 of 22 for 162 yards.

But again, Burroughs countered.

On Burroughs’ next possession, Lucas Yanez passed to Volland for 34 yards, setting up a nine-yard touchdown rush by Anding.

Yanez was 14 of 26 passing for 229 yards. He had seven carries for 69 yards.

Burbank moved the ball deep into Burroughs territory twice down the stretch in the fourth quarter, and both times was turned away on fourth down.

On a fourth-and-two situation from the Indians’ 10-yard line with 6:25 left, Colman’s pass fell incomplete.

Burbank defensive back Quortney Brazier stripped Anding and recovered the ball at the Burroughs 16-yard line just 22 seconds later.

Burbank place kicker Varaga Zeinali lined up a 22-yard field goal attempt, but the snap went awry and the Bulldogs’ holder, Zack Tomlinson, threw an incomplete pass while trying to salvage the play.

“We should’ve had it,” Valencia said of the failed field goal attempt. “It’s a chip-shot.”

Burroughs took over with 4:55 remaining, down by seven.

The Indians faced a critical fourth-down-and-four conversion at their own 41-yard line, with 2:15 showing on the clock. Yanez passed again to his brother, good for eight yards.

With 1:44 left, the Yanez connection struck again when Lucas passed 51 yards for a touchdown to Tyler, up the left sideline.

“It just clicked,” Tyler Yanez said. “We were doing the same play over and over.”

Tyler Yanez recorded eight catches for 132 yards.

Escobar added the extra point, which tied the game for the first time, 35-35.

Burbank’s offense went three-and-out, then punted to the Burroughs’ 44-yard line with 1:15 left.

Yanez passed to Volland for 25 yards to the Bulldogs’ 26-yard line. Then Lucas passed to Tyler for 11 yards and again for nine yards, bringing the ball all the way to the eight-yard line, just before Escobar’s field goal.

During the rally, the Yanez brothers approached Knoop with their own game plan.

“We went up to coach and were like, ‘Coach, we got it. Let us take the game over.’ He let us,” Lucas Yanez said. “He believed in us.”

“Lucas called all those plays on that drive,” Knoop said.

Valencia said of Lucas Yanez: “He hit his guys in stride, managed the game and did a phenomenal job controlling the game at the end. He really kept his cool and he earned himself a league championship.”


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