BURBANK — There was a logjam for second place among three one-loss football teams in the Pacific League heading into Friday night’s games.
Burroughs High was one of those teams, along with Crescenta Valley and Arcadia, who were all chasing league-leading Muir going into the third-to-last game of the regular season. There were plenty of scenarios involving the Indians, who hosted Pasadena at Memorial Field.
What was clear was that Burroughs needed a win to stay in the mix for the playoffs, and keep its outside hopes for a league title alive. However, with the stakes high, Burroughs found itself clinging to a three-point advantage late in the first half before scoring twice in 44 seconds to open the floodgates.
The Indians rolled from there, as they earned a 38-0 decision over the Bulldogs, which featured a running clock in the final quarter. It was the Indians’ second straight shutout in Pacific League play.
“We started out a little slow,” Burroughs Coach Keith Knoop said. “[Pasadena] came out in a completely different defense than we anticipated, so we had to adjust to that a little bit. But once we did, we fixed it and off to the races. Our defense was really stout tonight.”
Burroughs (5-3, 4-1 in league) led, 3-0, with Andres Aguilar set to punt the ball away with less than six minutes before halftime. The snap was low and rolled back to the junior, who scooped up the ball and got off a 38-yard punt, pinning Pasadena (1-7, 1-4) on its own 8-yard line.
When the Bulldogs failed to get a first down, the Burroughs defense forced a punt. Indian Eric Gordon returned the offering 31 yards for a score, but the return was nullified. Unfazed, Burroughs scored three plays later when Andrew Williams threw a 20-yard touchdown pass to running back Javier Pineda down the right sideline for a 10-0 lead with 2:55 left in the second.
The ensuing kickoff put the Bulldogs at their own 10-yard line, and once again the Indians forced a punt without giving up a first down. Pasadena punted, and once again, Gordon returned it for a touchdown. This time the senior went 45 yards for the score.
The touchdown gave Burroughs a 17-0 lead with 2:44 left in the first half, and it took that advantage into the break.
“Mistakes happen all the time,” Gordon said. “So you’ve got to come out next time and make a point, show you are dominant.”
The Indians poured it on in the third quarter, putting up 21 points. An Anthony Archuleta sack derailed a Pasadena possession to open the third, forcing a punt. Three plays later, Pineda burst through the line for a 72-yard touchdown run in which the junior was corralled about 10 yards from the end zone but kept churning his legs, carrying a crowd with him in for the score.
“Just got to keep those feet moving,” Pineda said. “That is all that is on my mind.”
Pineda carried the bulk of the offensive load for Burroughs, amassing 178 yards in 18 carries with the one rushing touchdown and one receiving score.
Late in the third, Burroughs scored 14 points in 11 seconds to put the game on ice. Conor Joyce slipped behind the two Pasadena safeties to haul in a 49-yard scoring pass from Williams. The senior quarterback finished with 123 yards and two scores on seven of 10 pass completions.
The other Indian with two touchdowns was Gordon. After the Joyce score, Pasadena completed its first pass of the game on a screen to Joseph Thomas, but as he struggled to get back to the line of scrimmage Gordon ripped the ball away and took it 15 yards for the final touchdown of the contest.
“If the ball is out there I’m trying my hardest to take the ball and score,” Gordon said.
Points and possession were at a premium in the first quarter. Burroughs opened the game with a nine-play drive, ending in a 32-yard field goal by Aguilar.
Next for the Indians is a road game against Arcadia, another one of the Pacific League squads fighting for the league’s three automatic playoff spots.
“We play Arcadia [next], who played Muir tonight,” Knoop said of the complicated playoff picture. “We are assuming Muir beat them, but you never know, anyone can beat anyone. So if that is the case, we’ve got to beat Arcadia and it sets us up with a big showdown against Burbank, because if Burbank beats us it will be a coin flip between CV, us and Burbank because we are assuming Muir will beat CV. Then if we beat Burbank, we knock them out of the playoffs and we’re second place.”