If there was any question about the status of Burroughs High senior tailback Chance Bell’s thigh bruise sustained the previous week in a lopsided loss to Cathedral, it was answered on the opening drive against Royal.
Bell carried the ball on six consecutive plays, including a 33-yard scoring run with 6:26 left in the first quarter as the Indians held off the Highlanders 26-21 in a nonleague battle Friday at Memorial Field.
Bell finished the evening with a personal-best 46 carries for a game-high 235 yards and three touchdowns.
“There was a lot of hard work during practice,” said Bell, who had 156 yards on 21 carries in the first half. “There are a lot of things we have to work on, but I’m just happy to get the win.”
Burroughs (1-1) led 16-7 at the intermission, but was outscored 14-10 in the second half against the Highlanders (171 total net yards), who came in having surrendered 68 points in two losses.
The win was the first for Coach Mike Reily, who was pleased with the final score. “It was awesome,” said Reily about his initial victory.
Reily was also happy with Bell’s incredible performance. “That was a lot of carries, but he’s a great running back. I don’t know if I want him to carry the ball 46 times, but there might be games we need him to carry it that many times. I also think we have to be conscious about how we use him.”
The Indians darted in front 14-0 with 10:35 left in the second quarter when Bell scored on a two-yard run.
Bell, who had two receptions for 15 yards, was asked if he was tired in the second half.
“Yeah, I got a little winded,” he said. “At halftime I got my second wind. That was a lot carries, but I also want to be smart out there. I’m going to run hard and try and break tackles, but I also need to be smart.”
Burroughs’ advantage expanded to 16-0 when junior quarterback Chris Hulin (six of eight for 62 yards and one interception) was tackled by senior linebacker Nico Frugone in the end zone for a safety and 2:35 remaining before halftime.
Royal (0-3) cut the deficit to 16-7 when the ball sailed over junior punter/kicker Jonathan Rivas’ head as the Highlanders took over deep inside Indians territory.
It took one play for junior quarterback Jacob Ulmann (four of six for 57 yards) to find senior wide receiver Mitchel Hunter (63 yards on three catches) with an 18-yard pass and 1:22 on the clock in the second quarter.
A drive that began the second half by the Indians resulted in a missed 29-yard field goal attempt by Rivas, but the next time Burroughs (321 total yards) had the ball, it marched from its 43-yard line as Bell capped an 11-play march with an eight-yard run as 2:24 remained in the third quarter.
The 23-7 lead looked solid, but Royal would get within five points and 1:33 left in the contest when Hulin carried the ball into the end zone after an eight-yard scamper that made it 26-21.
Royal trimmed the lead to 26-14 when senior strong safety Tommy Pinneri picked off senior quarterback Hayden Zepeda (nine of 18 for 80 yards and one pick) and raced 25 yards into the end zone with 6:19 left in the final quarter.
With 8:50 remaining in the fourth quarter, Rivas tacked on a 20-yard field goal that made it 26-7.
On Burroughs’ final drive which began at the Indians 48-yard line, Zepeda marched his club to the Royal 39-yard line as time expired.
The Indians will host Diamond Ranch next Friday.