By Rick Assad
In what turned into an offensive explosion, the Burroughs High football team was on the short end of a 50-47 setback against host Tahquitz in a CIF Southern Section Division IX first-round playoff game on Friday night.
The points were gathered fast and furious as each team scored in every quarter, but the Titans outscored the Bears 15-7 in the fourth period and that proved too much.
The winning points came on a “Hail Mary” pass with 35 seconds left in the match, but Burroughs still had one final chance to pull ahead.
Burroughs junior quarterback Chris Kulikov’s three-yard scoring run with 1:01 remaining saw the Bears barrel ahead 47-43.
On the night, Kulikov, who completed 20 of 35 passes for 326 yards, threw four touchdown passes and ran for 192 yards on 13 carries and added two more rushing scores and finished with 518 yards.
The game was knotted at 7-7 heading into the second quarter as Kulikov’s 50-yards strike with 1:41 left in the first frame to junior wide receiver Ethan Hubbell made it 7-0.
The Titans (8-3 overall and 3-2 for third place in the Mountain Pass League) leveled it at 7-7 on a 50-plus yard run with 14 seconds left in the same period.
Burroughs (7-4 and 3-2 for second place in the Pacific League) marched in front 13-7 when senior running back Marcus Manahan dented the end zone with 8:45 left in the second period on a three-yard burst.
Tahquitz answered with a 80-yard scoring play and bolted ahead 14-13, but that was short-lived as Kulikov connected with junior wide receiver Jake Scozzola on a 30-plus yard pass to make it 20-14 in favor of the Bears.
The Titans then added two touchdowns that included a four-yard scoring run that handed Tahquitz a 21-20 lead while the Bears collected one for a 27-20 advantage.
The Titans ran the ball effectively and Burroughs coach Jesse Craven knew it could be a problem.
“They have scored a ton of points all season long and they have a great running game that gave us challenges all night,” he said.
After that tally, Tahquitz returned the kickoff for a touchdown and took a 28-27 cushion into the locker room.
The Bears, who began the season with four consecutive wins before losing to host Harvard-Westlake 39-14, in a nonleague game, scored 13 points in the third quarter and held the Titans to seven points.
One of the touchdowns by Burroughs was a 28-yard bullet from Kulikov to Scozzola.
“He had an incredible game. He has been an incredible player for us all year long,” Craven said of his gifted signal-caller. “When the game is on the line, he always plays his best.”
Kulikov also had a short run that gave the Bears, who ended the season with back-to-back losses, a 47-43 lead but it wasn’t enough.
“He has had an incredible amount of growth from week one to now,” Craven said of Kulikov. “We are looking forward to how much he will improve over the off-season and what he can accomplish next year.”