GLENDALE — A 6-foot-4 target is hard to miss.
Burroughs High senior wide receiver Conor Joyce and quarterback Andrew Williams proved that for most of Friday evening, while opposing Glendale seemed powerless to stop them.
The duo connected on four touchdowns to help the visiting Indians score 28 unanswered points en route to a 35-14 victory over Glendale at Moyse Field in the Pacific League opener.
“It seemed like everything was coming my way,” said the 6-4 Joyce. “I’ve never experienced a game like this. The ball was huge and I just tried to make every catch.”
Joyce hauled in eight receptions for 102 yards and four touchdowns. His effort slightly topped a stellar effort from Williams, who was 20 for 22 for 269 yards and four touchdowns before being pulled at the close of the third quarter.
The pair hooked up for the lone score of the second half on a 17-yard out route in which Joyce created late separation and hauled in the score with 1:27 remaining in the third quarter to put Burroughs (2-2) up, 35-14, after the point after.
“They’ve both seniors and they’ve both been working together since last year,” said Indians Coach Keith Knoop, whose team survived three turnovers and 125 penalty yardage. “We knew that both were capable of this type of game.”
The drive was the last for Williams, who sat out the fourth quarter.
Glendale (2-2) did drive on Burroughs in the second half, but was turned away denied on three straight turnovers on down, with the best look ending on the Indians’ 34 with 7:18 left in the third.
In a first half of polar opposites, the Indians responded to two debilitating turnovers by winning the second quarter, 21-0, and leading, 28-14, at the break.
When the Indians didn’t make mistakes, they were methodical in the first half, winning the battles on first downs (18-2), offensive yardage (341-128) and total plays (35-13).
Burroughs knotted the game and scored the first of 21 unanswered first-half points when Williams connected on the first of three touchdown scores to Joyce with 10:40 remaining.
The score followed a familiar pattern as the Indians defense forced a three and out from Glendale and the Indians responded by driving down field and scoring again, with Williams tossing a six-yarder to Joyce with 3:55 left in the half to give Burroughs its first lead, 21-14.
Rather than try to kill the clock, the Nitros threw two incomplete passes and were forced to punt on their next possession.
Burroughs took over the Glendale 47 and overcame a second-and-33 scenario thanks in part to a 23-yard pass from Williams to Eric Hernandez. Eventually, the Indians scored on a five-yard pass from Williams to Joyce with 22 second left which, after the point-after try, gave Burroughs its 28-14 lead.
Perhaps lost in the aerial fireworks was the three-person rushing punch of Michael Opsina, Javier Pineda and Williams, who combined for 159 yards on 22 carries.
In some ways, the first half was exactly what the Nitros needed as the Indians hampered their chances with two turnovers that led directly to two spectacular touchdowns.
Glendale running back Daniel Jung, still bothered by leg issues, took the Nitros’ first carry and his last of the game 72 yards down the visitor’s sideline after breaking contain at the line of scrimmage for a touchdown.
The score put Glendale up, 7-0, with 7:42 left in the first and was aided by a Burroughs’ fumble on the Glendale 30, which was recovered by Luis Ruiz.
While Burroughs knotted the score at 7 on a 20-yard scamper from Pineda, the Indians made another costly mistake when a botched punt return was recovered by the Nitros at the Indians’ 32 with 3:03 left in the first quarter.
Glendale didn’t waste any time as quarterback Kevin Felix (five for 12 for 59 yards) hit receiver Martin Marin on a 32-yard over-the-shoulder fade in the end zone that put the Nitros ahead, 14-7, with 2:56 left in the first quarter.
“Hey, they made plays and we didn’t. [Joyce] was difficult to stop,” said Nitros Coach John Tuttle, who held out Jung the rest of the game because of a coach’s decision. “We have some things to learn from this and we’ll move on.”