Stopping Muir High running back Jonathan Stephens is something that has gotten more difficult over the years.
Now a senior, the fourth-year varsity player got the upper hand on Burroughs High Friday as he helped the visiting Mustangs defeat the Indians 40-17 at Memorial Field.
“That running back was a load. He was a very physical, tough runner,” Burroughs coach Mike Reily said. “He did some great things.”
The loss put Burroughs (3-4, 2-3 in league) in a very difficult position if it is to make it to postseason play.
“We’re taking it one game at a time and are just trying to execute our game plan,” Reily said. “We had some kids who were a little banged up tonight. We need to assess those injuries and those injury reports and kind of go from there.”
Burroughs got on the board first as Jonathan Rivas kicked a 34-yard field goal with 8:36 left in the first quarter.
But Muir used its passing game to score a pair of touchdowns to go up 14-3.
Burroughs Ben Peters, who rushed for 162 yards, scored on a 15-yard run with 10:30 left in the first half to make it 14-10.
But then Stephens, who finished with 200 yards rushing, started making things more difficult for the Indians.
His 3-yard run with 5:21 left in the first half made it 21-10.
Muir (5-3, 3-2 in league) opened the second half with a 27-yard field goal from Angel Aguilar.
Peters scored his second touchdown at the 4:03 mark in the third quarter, running in from eight yards out.
But Stephens countered with his second touchdown, a four-yard run with 8:31 left in the fourth quarter.
Muir later intercepted Burroughs quarterback Nathan Piper. Stephens scored his third touchdown on the ensuing drive, breaking free on a 58-yard run.
“We just trying to build as a team and get better,” said Stephens, who also assessed his team’s playoff aspirations. “The mentality of our team is win or go home.”
Burroughs will host Hoover High next Thursday at Memorial Field, before facing off against Burbank High in the regular season finale on Nov. 3.