PASADENA — A sizable road block standing in the way of the Burroughs High football team in its quest to capture a Pacific League championship presented itself Friday evening.
Despite enduring its share of struggles this season, namely having its head coach suspended indefinitely, Muir came into the contest with the confidence that it has had the upper hand the last few years when it comes to clashes between both squads. In fact, in the previous four games, the Mustangs have lost just once, that coming on a narrow three-point defeat in 2009.
The Indians faced their own struggle Friday, having to face the Mustangs without their star running back, Zander Anding, who was sidelined.
Burroughs wasn't able to rally in the wake of the loss of their main offense weapon, as it made mistakes, looked out of sync and generally played poorly. As a result, Muir took full advantage, knocking the Indians from the ranks of the league unbeaten with a 28-0 victory at home.
Burroughs Coach Keith Knoop said he found out late Friday afternoon that the pain that Anding had been experiencing since he was hit hard last week in a game against Crescenta Valley was a result of a partially collapsed lung.
"We thought that he might have just had an injury to his ribs," Knoop said. "But they found out it was really his lungs. He wanted to play [Friday]."
Anding, a senior running back, has been slicing through the Burroughs record books this season. Through seven games he had amassed 1,883 yards and 23 total touchdowns. In addition, he's had four straight games in which he's gained more than 300 yards, leaving him one behind former Ventura High and UCLA standout Tyler Ebell who holds the state record with five.
Knoop was hoping the absence of his talented player wouldn't adversely affect his squad, but it did.
"It affected a lot more than I thought that it was going to," said Knoop, whose team is 4-4, 4-1 in league. "But we let it affect us. I am embarrassed with the way that we played. We should have been able to get over not having Zander in the game … We have to realize we're not the Zander Anding Indians."
Mustangs' interim coach Dave Mitchell said his defense had worked hard all week on ways to contain Anding. He said he was surprised when he saw the running back was not suited up for the game.
"I know Burroughs was down not having their workhorse," Mitchell said. "We had everything prepared for No. 21, for sure. When we found out he wasn't playing we assured the kids that we can't afford to let down."
Muir (4-4, 3-2) was bolstered by the return of some of its key players who have missed games with injuries.
It was a defensive stalemate in the first quarter, as neither team could mount a scoring drive.
The Mustangs were able to take advantage of a short field to score the game's first touchdown. After a Burroughs punt, Muir took over at the 50-yard line under the direction of freshman quarterback Tyshawn Goodman. Muir found pay dirt when Goodman threw an 11-yard touchdown pass to Kevon Seymour with 9:12 left in the first quarter.
Seymour had four receptions for 50 yards.
Muir then took advantage of a Burroughs fumble to score on a three-yard run by Denzel Talifero at the 5:58 mark of the second.
The Mustangs made it 21-0 when defensive back Tarien Owens stepped in front of a pass and returned it 26 yards for a pick six.
Mitchell said Goodwin, who rushed for 40 yards and threw for 47, showed poise for being just a freshman.
"Every week we keep getting better and better," Goodwin said. "We have had some hard losses, but we've been able to stay together as a team."
Owens added another touchdown on a 23-yard run in the fourth quarter.
Although Burroughs played well on defense at times, if struggled mightily on offense. It didn't help matters when backup running back Israel Montes went down in the second half with an injury to his right ankle.
The Indians, who could muster just 25 yards passing, had only 61 yards of total offense in the first half. The team also had two potential touchdown passes dropped near the goal line.