By Rick Assad
It was apparent early on that the Burroughs High football team wanted to run the football.
Of the first 10 plays, seven were on the ground and on the night the Bears would rip visiting Arcadia for 229 yards on 41 carries and four of their six touchdowns would come on running plays.
This strategy was effective as Burroughs ran off with a 41-20 win in a Pacific League game at Memorial Field on Friday night and clinched a spot in the upcoming CIF Southern Section playoffs.
There is still one regular season game left as Burroughs will take on crosstown rival Burbank for the 74th time next Friday.
“The defense played great and our offensive line we really challenged them this week after the last two weeks we struggled to run the ball effectively,” Burroughs coach Jesse Craven said. “They came out and we were able to do that when it mattered most.”
Craven liked the way the defense played against an explosive offense like Arcadia’s.
“All year long our defense has really been the anchor for us, and it continues. We just need to continue to get better,” he said. “It’s nice that we locked up an automatic playoff spot and that’s the goal, so we accomplished that, but now we have a big game next week with Burbank. It’s always going to be a battle. We have a lot of things to fix.”
Burroughs (7-2 and 3-1 in league) was able to bounce back after its two setbacks and Craven thinks more good things are ahead.
“I like the growth that we’ve been able to develop week over week, even when we hit a couple of bumps in the road,” he said. “We’ve bounced back, like [the loss] to Pasadena, we beat Muir. It’s just the resilience of this group, the growth and the commitment.”
Senior running back Marcus Manahan finished with 146 yards on 28 carries and tallied two touchdowns while junior Noah Frenkel added 67 yards on seven rushes and crossed the goal line twice.
The Bears’ defense was stout as it held junior Derek Ganter Jr. in check as the standout wide receiver had eight receptions for 92 yards and one touchdown.
Junior wide receiver Mikal Reed added 103 yards on six catches and two scores for the Apaches.
After sophomore quarterback Keyon Mills (17 of 29 for 175 yards and one interception) found Reed with a 31-yard strike as 2:24 remained in the first quarter for a 6-0 lead, Burroughs evened it at 6-6 when junior quarterback Chris Kulikov (five of 15 for 151 yards and one pick) unloaded a 59-yard pass to senior wide receiver Dilan Webster (129 yards on two receptions) that set up Manahan’s one-yard rushing score with 11:29 left in the second period.
On Burroughs’ next series, the Bears pulled ahead 13-6 on a four-play, 21-yard drive that was capped off when Kulikov’s seven-yard toss to junior wide receiver Jake Scozzola (12 yards on two catches) that came after a poor punt.
The lead became 20-6 when on fourth and nine from the Arcadia 11, the intended punt turned into an errant run as the Bears had the ball on the 12-yard line. Two running plays were needed by Manahan including a four-yard carry into the end zone.
Arcadia’s second series of the second half ended with an interception by junior wide receiver/defensive back Ryan Hernandez.
The pick was cashed into a 70-yard scoring pass from Kulikov to Webster with 4:59 left in the third period as the five-play, 82-yard drive extended the Bears’ lead to 27-6.
With 34 seconds remaining in the frame, the Apaches sliced the lead to 27-13 when Mills hit Ganter on a 13-yard bullet.
Burroughs responded with a tally of its own and it came after a 76-yard, 14-play march that made it 34-13 and concluded with a 10-yard run by Frenkel as 6:17 was left in the game.
The Apaches (2-7 and 1-3 in league) needed points and went for it on fourth and 19 from the Arcadia 35, but Mills’ pass was incomplete.
From that spot, Frenkel found some room and dashed 35 yards into the end zone as 3:46 was left and the Bears were ahead 41-13.
Arcadia did get one more touchdown that cut the deficit to 21 points as Reed caught a four-yard pass with one second left on the clock, ending an 80-yard, 13-play trek.
Sophomore wide receiver/defensive back Patrick Lima also had a pick for the Bears.