By Dick Dornan
BurbankNBeyond Sports Editor
It wasn’t pretty at times but a win is a win. Especially on senior night. Burbank managed to overcome a sluggish first half to knock off a stubborn Crescenta Valley squad, 38-21, Friday night at Memorial Field.
With the victory, the Bulldogs improved to 4-0 in the Pacific League and 5-2 overall heading into a first-place showdown at Muir (4-3, 4-0) next Friday.
“We needed to face some adversity. CV came to fight,” Burbank assistant coach Richard Broussard said. “We needed that going into the Muir game. We need to come to work this week and play Bulldog football.”
Burbank’s explosive offense was a no-show in the opening 24 minutes of action. With aspirations of a league title in the back of their minds, the Bulldogs came out looking like anything but a potential league champion. BHS was outgained 136 to 113 by Crescenta Valley in the first half. The two teams combined for 10 punts with the Bulldogs contributing four punts and a turnover during that span.
“We came out flat. It took us a while to get going,” Burbank Coach Hector Valencia said. “But once our kids got going, we played pretty well. We started executing and went back to the things that we do.”
Burbank finally found the end zone mid-way through the second quarter courtesy of a blocked punt by Andy Park and recovery by Steven Kim in the end zone. A 32-yard touchdown run by Arlington made it 14-0 with 4:18 left in the first half.
The second half was the complete opposite as the Bulldogs scored on four of their first five possessions to take control of the game and squash any thoughts of an upset by Crescenta Valley (3-4, 1-3).
“Our communication and execution was bad in the first half,” said Kim, who set the single-season career sacks record at Burbank (12) with two sacks in the game. “But we came through in the second half.
“I made it a goal this year (sacks record) and I broke it. I didn’t think I could do it. But it’s great. It’s awesome and I feel good.”
Leading 14-7 at halftime after a lethargic first half, Burbank took the opening possession of the second half and drove 60 yards in seven plays. Facing 3rd and 7 from the CV 44, quarterback Ryan Meredith completed a 22-yard pass to Francis Nicks. On the next play, Meredith connected with Teddy Arlington on a 22-yard touchdown pass to give the Bulldogs a 20-7 lead.
Following a Falcons touchdown that cut the deficit to six points, Burbank came right back courtesy of James Williams. The talented sophomore tailback exploded through the heart of the CV defense and broke off what appeared to be a 52-yard touchdown.
However, Williams fumbled at the five-yard line only to have teammate Michael Wong recover the ball in the end zone for his first career touchdown.
“I have no idea what happened. Everything happened so fast,” said Wong, whose score gave Burbank a 26-14 lead with 3:14 left in the third quarter. “He (Williams) pretty much did all the work for me. I was just following behind him. It felt good.”
The pesky Falcons refused to go away. A 21-yard touchdown run brought Crescenta Valley to within five at 26-21 early in the fourth quarter.
No worries. The Bulldogs put the pedal to the medal with back-to-back scoring drives to stretch their lead to 38-21.
First, Meredith hooked up with Nicks again on a 40-yard pass completion that moved the ball to the CV 14. After Williams rushed for 13 yards, Meredith punched in the touchdown on a one-yard sneak.
After forcing a CV punt, Williams took the first play from scrimmage and broke free up the Burbank sideline and sprinted into the end zone on a 59-yard touchdown jaunt.
Williams finished the game with 167 yards on 14 carries. Meredith completed seven of 12 passes for 135 yards while Nicks caught four passes for 73 yards.
Arlington had a strong all-around game with 44 yards on 11 carries and a touchdown and added two receptions for 61 yards and a TD.
The Bulldogs can now set their sights on the matchup with Muir as the winner will have the inside track to the league title.
“There is a lot of pressure but we like it. It’s better to have that target than to have no target at all,” Valencia said. “Our seniors are doing awesome. They are leading and setting the tone for us. I’m very proud of how they led today.”
“We got a challenge. It will be tough and we need to work hard this week,” Wong added.