BURBANK — There was a sense of urgency for the Burbank High football team heading into Friday's Pacific League showdown with Muir.
With a heartbreaking overtime loss to Crescenta Valley last week in league action, the Bulldogs knew they couldn't afford another loss if they hoped to stay in contention for the league championship.
Quite simply, a team with two losses likely isn't going to claim the league crown. In fact, since Burbank joined the league in 2006, no team has won a title with more than one loss.
But after the Bulldogs' result against the Mustangs, Burbank is no longer thinking about a title, but just trying to hold on for a possible playoff spot.
Despite taking an early lead, Burbank saw Muir score 18 unanswered points to take control of the game, as the Mustangs went on to earn a 24-17 victory at Memorial Field.
"It is now just going to be survival for us these last few games," said Burbank Coach Hector Valencia, whose squad drops to 5-2, 2-2 in league. "We know we are going to have to win out, beat Burroughs and then it will probably come down to a coin flip to see if we make it to the playoffs."
Burbank — ranked No. 8 in the CIF Southern Section Southeast Division — came out of the gate with a solid effort and its defense played well early against the Mustangs (6-1, 4-0) — the No. 6 team in the division. But the Bulldogs defense sputtered at times, and the team had problems with Muir's relentless seven-man rush.
"I have to give credit to our defense," Valencia said. "They really kept us in the game early on. But we had problems passing the ball and they really shut down our running game."
Junior running back James Williams, who gained a school-record 278 yards last week, was held to 68 yards in 17 carries for no touchdowns. Passing, junior Ryan Meredith was seven for 23 for 129 yards and a touchdown.
Muir countered with a talented offensive weapon in senior quarterback Dejon Williams. Williams was 17 of 25 for 179 yards passing for three touchdowns. He was also the team's leading rusher, gaining 52 yards in 16 carries.
Having beaten Muir in two of the last four meetings, Burbank began the game with a 42-yard field goal by Herry Avetisyan on its first possession of the first quarter.
After Muir went ahead, 6-3, on a touchdown in the first quarter, the Bulldogs took the lead again with 2:13 left in the first half on a one-yard plunge up the middle my Meredith. The score was set up by a 34-yard pass from Meredith to Oharjee Brown.
The Mustangs got a late filed goal and the teams went into halftime with Burbank clinging to a 10-9 lead.
"I thought we came in with a good game plan and the kids were motivated and ready," Valencia said. "But Muir is a good team and you can always expect a good rivalry when we play against them. We just didn't do some of the things we wanted to do."
Burbank couldn't contain the Muir offense in the second half, as the Mustangs moved the ball well and surged out to a 24-10 lead with 8:05 remaining in the game.
The Bulldogs did get a late touchdown when Meredith connected with Tony Toledo on a 41-yard strike with 1:17 left.
Burbank also had one last shot to tie the score with time running out. The Bulldogs got the ball back on the Mustangs' 47 with 2.4 seconds left, but Meredith was dropped for a sack.