By Rick Assad
There were enough opportunities for the Burroughs High football team to put even more points on the scoreboard.
A lack of execution when it was needed was the primary problem on Friday night at a chilly Zamperini Field as the Bears fell to host Torrance 19-14 in a CIF Southern Section Division XI opening-round match.
The best chance Burroughs had to add to its total and the possible winning points came on its final series when it had the football resting on the Torrance 16-yard line.
The drive began at the Tartans’ 30 after recovering a fumble. Two running plays netted two and four yards, and it was now third down and four from the Torrance 24.
Quarterback Jon English then found senior wide receiver/linebacker Gerald Garcia with a five-yard reception for the first down.
With the ball on the Torrance 19, English, a senior, was tackled for a four-yard loss, but countered with an eight-yard pass to Garcia (13 yards on two receptions), which made it third and six from the 15.
English, who completed nine of 18 for 158 yards and was intercepted once, lost a yard on third down and it brought on fourth and six from the 16.
The drive needed to be sustained, but on fourth down, English’s pass was tipped at the line of scrimmage and never found the intended receiver.
To be fair, English injured his left wrist in the first quarter, which is his throwing hand, and said that he wanted to stay in the game and did.
“This sucks, man. We put in a lot of work every week and gave our heart out on the field,” English said. “Torrance is really physical. They took us out bit by bit. They injured a lot of us. We wanted it. They came in hitting hard.”
English, who picked up 18 yards on 17 carries and was sacked twice, then talked about the final possession and the game overall.
“We had the right plays. We had everything we needed, but we didn’t execute and Torrance came hard. They’re a physical team,” he explained. “They have a bright future ahead of them in these playoffs.”
From there, the Tartans (7-4 and 1-4 in the Pioneer League for fifth place) ran out the clock.
The key play on the game’s final drive was a 14-yard gallop on first down from freshman wide receiver/free safety Steve Gonzalez that delivered the ball to the Torrance 30.
Second-year Burroughs coach Jesse Craven was proud of the team for not giving up.
“I told them exactly how I felt. We asked them at halftime to shut them down on defense and give us a chance on offense and they did exactly that,” he said. “They should hold their heads high. They’ve done something that we haven’t been able to do in seven years which is get to the playoffs and they accomplished that.”
Craven said that there were peaks and valleys, but overall his team never threw in the towel.
“We were right there. We had the opportunity. We didn’t execute,” he said. “Our guys battled. Our guys showed that in the second half. At the end of the day, we didn’t execute.”
To be sure, this was a hard-hitting affair from both teams and on both sides of the line of scrimmage.
Torrance’s defensive line and its linebackers were especially swift and aggressive all night and that swayed the game in the Tartars’ favor.
The Bears (4-6 and 2-3 for third place in the Pacific League) fell behind 7-0 in the first quarter on a 24-yard dash from freshman quarterback/wide receiver Jake Silverman (81 yards on 11 rushes) with 3:55 left.
The touchdown was helped by a 52-yard punt return from freshman Malikai Johnson.
With 10:12 left in the second period, Burroughs evened it at 7-7 when English scored on a four-yard carry around the left side, finalizing an impressive 80-yard, nine-play march.
The tally was set up when sophomore wide receiver/defensive back Ryan Hernandez came up with an interception.
Burroughs’ second touchdown of the evening came with 1:59 left in the third quarter as senior Nathan Howland-Chhina (46 yards on 15 carries) had a one-yard run.
On the series before the score, Torrance started a drive from its four-yard line.
Silverman gained five yards on first down, but then lost two yards and six yards.
Instead of punting, senior wide receiver/cornerback Marcus Tialavera, who later snared a 31-yard scoring pass that made it 19-7 with 1:25 left before the intermission, tossed an incomplete pass which handed the ball to the Bears at the one-yard line.
If there was a back-breaking play made by Torrance it had to be Silverman’s 55-yard dash with 6:05 remaining in the opening half that made the score 13-7.
The play saw the rangy 5-foot-11, 175-pound speedster burst through the first line of defenders and then zig-zag past the secondary and into the end zone.
One of English’s scoring runs, a 63-yarder with 5:48 left in the first period, was negated because of a holding penalty.
Torrance had a 10-yard touchdown spurt by junior running back Ian Dilthey with 7:54 left wiped out because of a holding call.
Additionally, a 32-yard field goal by Torrance senior Nick Burke with 6:42 remaining in the opening frame drifted wide left.