Midway through the third quarter of a tightly contested battle against host Arcadia High, tiny Burbank High junior running back Chadz Vang gained nine yards on a carry that ended with him being picked up and slammed to the turf.
No penalty was called by the officiating crew, much to the surprise of everyone on Burbank’s sideline.
But the lack of a call seemed to light a fire into the Bulldogs, who kept their cool and rallied for a 17-14 Pacific League victory over the Apaches.
“We all knew that was the time,” Burbank quarterback Matthew Porras said of the tackle on Vang. “That shouldn’t have to be what turns the switch, but it was.”
Burbank (4-2 overall, 3-0 in league) finished off the drive following the hit on Vang as Darnell Williams scored on a 1-yard run with 4:36 left in the third quarter to make it 14-10.
“When that happened I feel like the family came together and tried to protect each other,” the 5-foot-3, 130-pound Vang said.
Burbank scored the game-winning touchdown with 9:58 left as Porras scrambled and avoided several tacklers before finding a hole on the left side of the end zone, running in from nine yards out.
“We were trying to get it to the right side and it was just blocked up,” said Porras, who had intended to pass the ball.
Burbank coach Adam Colman said he saw something in his team that he has been hoping for.
“I think it was a maturation process. At halftime they came together as a team,” he said. “We’ve talked about family, but tonight was the first time that really happened.”
Arcadia (3-3, 2-1) got on the board first as running back Andre Lewis scored on a three-yard run with 2:18 left in the first quarter.
Burbank kicker Andrew Rovira narrowly missed a 25-yard field goal with 4:10 left in the first half. He came back to convert from 28 yards with 18.1 seconds left in the half, as the Bulldogs went into the intermission down 7-3.
Arcadia went up 14-3 early in the third quarter when quarterback Max Davila hooked up with Rolandiss Whitener on a 39-yard touchdown reception.
Porras finished with 25 carries for 103 yards. Williams finished with 25 carries for 102 yards.
Burbank will host Pasadena next Thursday at Memorial Field at 7 p.m.