BURBANK — There was final placement in the Pacific League, playoff seeding and even an automatic postseason berth on the line Friday when Burbank High took on Burroughs in their annual football clash.
Thus, as has been the case for most of the cross-town clashes since the local teams joined the league seven years ago, this season’s Big Game had much more than pride and city bragging rights on the line.
The Bulldogs had the most to lose, as a defeat would put them out of the picture for an automatic CIF Southern Section playoff spot. The Indians, on the other hand, were in the playoffs win or lose.
With its postseason life possibly hanging in the balance, Burbank erased a late Burroughs lead in the first half, accounted for 30 unanswered points in the third quarter and eventually rolled to a 47-21 league victory at Memorial Field.
Burroughs (6-4, 5-2 in league) was already assured of a playoff spot going into the game. However, instead of finishing in second and going into the postseason as the league’s No. 2 seed, the Indians will be the No. 3 seed.
Burbank (8-2-5-2) finished tied for second, but the victory puts it in the playoffs with the No. 2 spot.
“We knew if we lost this game we might not get into the playoffs,” said Burbank wide receiver/corner back Oharjee Brown, a transfer from Burroughs who had three catches for 90 yards. “We didn’t want to leave it up to chance that we might not get in. We just knew that we had to play hard so we could get the win.”
Burroughs was able to take a 14-10 lead in the second quarter, largely due to the passing of quarterback Andrew Williams, who completed his first seven passes of the game. He completed 12 of 17 passes for 174 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions.
Also helping the cause was Indians wide receiver Conor Joyce, who caught six balls for 170 yards and a touchdown.
But after going up by five points with 5:55 remaining in the first half following an 80-yard touchdown pass from Williams to Joyce, the Indians’ offense stalled.
Following a Brown interception, Burbank scored on a six-yard run by Joseph Pendleton (11 carries for 135 yards and three touchdowns) with 1:31 left in the game and the Bulldogs were able to go into the half with a 17-14 advantage.
“At halftime we talked about a couple of adjustments that we had to do,” Burbank Coach Hector Valencia said. “We just had to make sure that we finish. We were moving the ball in the first half and we knew we were moving in the right direction. We just had to change up some things and that really paid off for us in the second half.”
The second half was a mighty one for the Bulldogs. Led by James Williams, the Burbank ground attack couldn’t be stopped by Burroughs. Williams, who opened up the game lined up in the Wildcat, had another outstanding game, carrying the ball 23 times for 173 yards and three touchdowns.
The offensive push helped the Bulldogs score 30 unanswered points in the third and 37 total carrying over from the first half.
“We just came out and played poorly in the third quarter,” Burroughs Coach Keith Knoop said. “The third quarter we played terrible. In the fourth quarter we played well, but we just had a bad third quarter and that killed us.”
Down, 47-14, after three quarters, Andrew Williams began running the ball on the option and the Indians began moving the ball better in the fourth quarter. Burroughs finally broke up the Burbank scoring string when Sean Johnson found the end zone on a one-yard run with 3:23 remaining in the game.
Burbank began the game with a 3-0 advantage when Herry Avetisyan booted a 25-yard field goal with 7:55 left in the first quarter.
But Burroughs countered and went up, 7-3, following a two-yard scoring run by Andrew Williams.
Burbank was able to snatch back the lead after James Williams scored on a six-yard scamper with 7:42 remaining in the second quarter for a 10-7 Bulldogs advantage.
However, once again the Indians fought back, taking a 14-10 lead on the long bomb from Andrew Williams to Joyce.
“This was a big game for us and we knew it,” James Williams said. “I’m just so proud that the guys were able to step up and we were able to get the win.”
Andrew Williams was Burroughs’ leading rusher with 50 yards in eight carries. Burroughs also flirted with the Wildcat with Javier Pineda, but it proved relatively ineffective.