By Dick Dornan
MyBurbank Sports Editor
Christmas came early for the Burroughs football program- on the field and at school this past week. In a dust-filled game that was reminiscent of Memorial Field circa 1980, the Indians defeated North Hollywood, 30-7, on the road behind two spectacular plays that literally stole the show.
Seniors Eric Gordon and Davion Barker each made game-changing plays that fueled Burroughs’ first win over a non-league opponent since 2009.
First, Gordon ripped the ball out of a Husky ball carrier and proceeded to score from 13 yards out that gave Burroughs a 17-0 lead mid-way through the third quarter.
A few possessions later, Barker stripped North Hollywood quarterback Michael Zurita of the ball on a fourth-and-one and promptly returned his theft 88 yards for a touchdown and a 30-0 lead with 6:23 left in the game.
But the biggest gift for Burroughs (1-1) arrived at the door of Athletic Director Jose Valle. Standing in front of him was Hawkins Mann, a 6-foot-4, 220-pound senior transfer from Boise, Idaho. Mann recently left Borah High School in Boise and moved to Burbank. He was a four-year starter on defense for Borah and was selected to the All-State Defensive Line AND All-State Offensive Line last season.
After one week in practice, Mann could be described as a “Mann-child” with his imposing figure, tremendous skill level and relentless energy. Mann, who wore No. 51 along the sidelines but did not play against North Hollywood, hopes to be cleared by the CIF in time for the Indians next game against Camarillo.
Burroughs coach Keith Knoop and his brother, Kenny, both acknowledged after Thursday’s contest that Mann’s presence will be a huge addition on the defensive side of the ball. Mann, a self-described “hybrid” defensive end, has already verbally committed to Boise State.
It’s not often a prized division one recruit arrives at your door unexpectedly. Burroughs welcomed Mann with open arms. Mann will join a stingy defense that made play after play against the Huskies on Thursday night.
Leading 3-0 at the end of the first quarter, Gordon intercepted a Husky pass that set up the next Indians score.
On fourth-and-six from the North Hollywood 17-yard line, Burroughs quarterback Andrew Williams connected with Conor Joyce (37 yards on three catches) for a 13-yard gain. Two plays later, sophomore Hunter Guerin punched in the touchdown on a 4-yard run that gave JBHS a 10-0 halftime lead.
On the Huskies first possession of the second half, Gordon again came up with a big play stripping the ball and returning it for a touchdown. Gordon’s play sparked the Indians.
“I was just going for the ball. The ball wasn’t exposed. I just took it from him,” Gordon said. “Coach said he wanted the ball back so I thought I would step up on defense and make good game-changing plays. We have to work hard as a family so when that play came I took my opportunity. We all played together as a family and we made big plays.”
Williams added a 40-yard touchdown run with 1:10 left in the third on a quarterback keeper right up the gut of the Husky defense. The subsequent PAT was missed giving Burroughs a 23-0 advantage.
Then it was time for Barker to perform his Houdini trick. On fourth-and-one on the Indians 12-yard line, Zurita pushed behind his center trying to gain the one yard needed for a first down. What he didn’t expect was for Barker to suddenly rip the ball away and sprint 88 yards the opposite direction that stunned everyone in attendance.
“I wanted to make a big play in the red zone,” Barker said. “My team did a good job at stopping him. They had him wrapped up and I just came up and stripped it from him. The defense played hard and I thought the defense won us the game today.”
North Hollywood finally found the end zone with 2:01 left on a 22-yard touchdown pass.
“The defense stepped up. We played well,” Knoop said. “We knew physically we were better than they were. The turnovers were fun to watch. It’s great when you score 30 points and know your defense scored 14 of them.”
Williams led the team in rushing with 45 yards and 53 yards through the air completing 5 of 11 passes. Six other Indian ball carriers combined for 82 yards. More production will be needed when the Scorpions come to town.
“We have some work to do on offense. We have to get a lot better when we play Camarillo next week because they are good,” Knoop said.
Adding Mann to the mix will be an intriguing story line this upcoming week.
Burroughs plays Camarillo in its home opener on Thursday at 7 p.m. at Memorial Field.
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