Forced to go deep into the quarterback well, junior varsity signal-caller Nathan Piper was asked to lead the Burroughs High football team.
That’s a great deal to ask of a youngster who has never taken a snap at the varsity level.
Still, there were positive signs for the future, but playing on the road against a good team isn’t easy and the results were varied as the sophomore had trouble moving the ball through the air, but wasn’t intercepted in a 30-20 loss to Muir in a Pacific League game on Friday night.
More importantly, the setback put a severe dent on the Indians’ plans to make the CIF Southern Section playoffs.
Burroughs (4-5 and 3-3 in league) will play its regular-season finale against city rival Burbank at Memorial Field on Friday with a 7 p.m. start.
The Bulldogs are no longer undefeated in league play after falling at home 35-21 to Crescenta Valley, who are in first place with a 6-0 record.
Senior quarterback Hayden Zepeda said before the game that he expects to play against Burbank.
Burroughs trailed 12-0 after the first quarter and was outscored 12-7 in the second frame.
“We made some adjustments at halftime both offensively and defensively,” Burroughs coach Mike Reily said. “We thought it worked out well for the most part.”
Reily added: “We got off to a tough start. We had bad snaps and we made some errors. We shot ourselves in the foot.”
But the Indians came within 10 points with 17.4 seconds left in the contest when senior tailback Chance Bell scored from one yard out.
The march started at the Burroughs 24-yard line and it consumed nine plays.
The Indians scored their initial touchdown when Bell barreled in from 14 yards out and 9:21 left in the second quarter as Muir (353 total net yards) saw its lead trimmed to 18-7 on an excursion that began at the Burroughs 32 and took seven plays.
“I’ve been hurt all season,” said Bell, who finished with a game-best 167 yards on 35 carries. “I’m willing to sacrifice my body for the team.”
Bell, who had 110 yards in the second half on 23 rushes, chimed in with the second of his three touchdowns, a two-yard romp that made it 24-14 with 6:15 left in the third quarter.
Piper (five of 11 for 58 yards) directed the Indians (221 total yards) on a 65-yard drive that took 12 plays with Bell carrying the ball 10 times for 44 yards.
Muir Coach Antyone Sims said he knew that Bell, who will play for San Diego State, would carry the heavy load.
“Chance is a special player,” he said. “We game-planned for him to carry the ball.”
The Mustangs (5-4 and 3-3 in league) received a pair of scoring tallies from junior running back Jonathan Stephens.
When Stephens located the end zone from two yards out and 3:59 left in the opening frame, Muir led 6-0.
Stephens added a five-yard burst with 2:05 left before the intermission to make it 12-0.
Senior wide receiver Elijah Blades (54 yards on four receptions), who has committed to the University of Florida, had a 22-yard reception with 5:14 left in the second quarter that made it 24-7.