Burbank football can't stop run in playoff opener

MEMORIAL FIELD — It was Norwalk High’s potent offensive attack against Burbank’s stingy defense when the two met Friday in a CIF Southern Section first-round playoff football game.

Entering the contest, the Lancers had the No. 1 offense in the Southeast Division, scoring 39.9 points a game, while the Bulldogs had the top-rated defense, giving up an average of 15.6 points a contest.

However, it was apparent early in the contest at Memorial Field that Burbank was going to have trouble containing the Norwalk rushing attack.

Scoring all of their touchdowns on the ground, and having two running backs gain more than 100 yards, the Lancers took advantage of Burbank mistakes in the first quarter and rolled to 49-14 victory.

The Bulldogs end the season with a 7-4 record after placing second in the Pacific League behind champion Muir. Burbank was able to qualify for the postseason this season after missing the playoffs last season.

Norwalk (9-2) — which finished third in the Suburban League — used a methodical ground assault to eat up yardage against the Bulldogs. The Lancers’ running backs took advantage of an explosive offensive line that continually moved the Burbank defense back all night, paving way for the wing-T ground game.

“I actually think they’re better than we thought they were going to be,” Burbank Coach Hector Valencia said. “They didn’t get any big plays against us, but they moved the ball very well.

“Our goal was to match them point for point. We thought if we could do that then we would have a chance. But we fell behind early and that really hurt us.”

The Lancers received a solid performance from running back Rashaad Perry, who led the offense with 154 yards rushing in 21 carries and scored two touchdowns. Teammate Bryan Sullivan had 10 carries for 107 yards and Malcom McAllister carried the ball 15 times for 94 yards and one touchdown.

It was mistakes by Burbank in the early going that set up Norwalk with a short field on three occasions in the first quarter. The Lancers took the mistakes and turned them into three touchdowns.

The game began on an ominous note for the Bulldogs when an attempted on-side kick was recovered by the Lancers at their own 47-yard line. It took them just seven running plays to score, as Perry powered over the goal line for a five-yard score with 8:37 left in the first.

Burbank then had its first series from scrimmage at its own 12. However, a Bulldogs’ fumble set up the Lancers at the Burbank 4. One play later, Matthew Ortega scored from four-yards out with 8:19 left to give Norwalk a 14-0 lead.

Ortega tallied two touchdowns and gained 42 yards.

On Burbank’s next position, it was forced to punt on its own 34. However, the ball went negative-2 yards and again the Lancers took over deep in Bulldogs territory at the 32. After a one-yard loss, Sullivan scampered 33 yards to put Norwalk up, 21-0, with 6:02 still left in the first.

“You just can’t make mistakes against a team like that,” Valencia said. “Those are things that they will take advantage of, and they did.”

The Lancers tacked on another touchdown in the first quarter after Burbank running back Teddy Arlington had the ball stripped. Norwalk then marched 49 yards to jump to a four-touchdown lead after one quarter.

Norwalk increased its lead to 35-0 before Burbank finally scored in the second quarter. After a fumble recovery by Damian Lopez, Bulldogs quarterback Ryan Meredith completed an 18-yard pass to Arlington with 1:16 remaining before half.

Meredith was nine of 22 for 152 yards and a touchdown. Arlington had three catches for 76 yards and gained 34 yards on the ground.

In the first two quarters, Norwalk gained 275 yards on the ground and threw just two passes. In comparison, Burbank had just 56 yards on the ground.

Down, 35-6 at the half, the Bulldogs started to throw the ball more in the second half.

“We had to throw the ball more,” said Burbank wide receiver Francis Nicks, who had three catches for 47 yards. “That’s what we talked about at halftime. I think we started playing a lot better in the second half.”

Burbank scored its second touchdown of the game with 8:13 remaining in the third quarter. Arlington had a four-yard run and Meredith hit Nicks on a two-point conversion pass. However, at that point, the Bulldogs still trailed, 35-14.

Norwalk would tack on two more touchdowns in the second half.

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