Hard-hitting and low-scoring were the stories in Friday’s CIF Southern Section Southeast Division opening-round playoff football game between Burroughs High and Norwalk at Memorial Field.
In the end, the Indians prevailed 16-9 over the Lancers with senior quarterback Steven Hubbell tossing two touchdown passes, one in each half, while junior tailback Chance Bell, the team’s leading ground-gainer the last two seasons, injured his knee on his initial four-yard carry and didn’t return to the game.
“I knew that our offensive production was going to go down when Chance went out of the game,” Burroughs coach Keith Knoop said. “We had to be creative, but Ash [Hawkins} and Oscar [Perez] stepped up.”
Burroughs (10-1), the No. 4 seeded team, readies for a quarterfinal encounter with St. Francis (8-3), which knocked off host Warren, 19-17, at Friedman Field on the Golden Knights’ campus.
This is Burroughs first playoff victory since 2010 when it defeated El Rancho.
The Indians came in having topped 40 points in seven games, but struggled at times to move the ball. Burroughs managed 336 total net yards, including 150 yards on 35 carries.
Several players had to take up the slack left by Bell’s absence, as Hubbell, a nifty runner, tacked on 51 yards on 15 carries and had three runs of 10 yards or more including a 16-yarder and two 13-yard sprints.
“I expected a different game because we knew that they [Norwalk] was a physical team,” said Hubbell, who hit 13 of 19 for 186 yards and one interception. “We knew it was going to be a tough game. Sometimes we didn’t score when we got in the red zone, but our defense was fantastic. Our defense did what it always does.”
Hawkins, a senior, came up with 45 yards on 14 rushes, while Perez, a junior, chimed in with 40 yards on three carries, but did fumble.
“I like getting the ball and it was a good night,” said Hawkins, who had 29 yards in the opening half on nine carries and would have had a few carries if Bell had played the while game. “I really didn’t think that I’d get that much time.”
The Indians, who finished 7-0 and first place in the Pacific League, led 7-0 when Hubbell moved Burroughs 81 yards on eight plays and capped it with a 45-yard toss to senior wide receiver Erick Hernandez with 33 seconds left in the opening quarter.
“Physically I feel fine,” said Hernandez, who had two catches for 55 yards. “It’s the guys in the trenches who get banged up. Our offense played alright, but our defense played really well.”
The Lancers (5-6) opened the scoring with a 34-yard field goal from junior Eduardo Nava and 5:01 left in the first quarter as the drive began at the Norwalk 33-yard line and consumed 14 plays.
When senior wide receiver/kicker Cade Borland (55 yards and three catches) drilled a 24-yard field goal and 7:49 left before the intermission, the Indians bolted ahead 10-3 on a drive that started at the Norwalk 46-yard line and took eight plays.
The Lancers (228 total yards) are a run-first offense and accumulated 226 yards on the ground on 46 rushes, including 131 yards in the second half.
Norwalk, which finished in third place in the Suburban League, closed to within 10-9 and 4:55 left in the third quarter on a 25-yard run and Nava’s point after hitting the right upright.
When the Indians took over on their next series at the Burroughs 23-yard line, Hubbell, who came in having tossed only three interceptions, was picked off by junior defensive end Robert Rodriguez, but Nava’s 33-yard field goal sailed wide right.
What followed was an 80-yard, 12-play march that ended when Hubbell found senior wide receiver Torin Harris (20 yards on two receptions) with an eight-yard bullet as 9:01 remained in the fourth quarter.
When Borland’s point after was blocked by sophomore strong safety Josh Martinez, the Indians pulled ahead by seven points.