By Rick Assad
Because it was the first Pacific League football game, it was imperative Burroughs High dispose of Crescenta Valley on Friday night at Moyse Field on the campus of Glendale High.
The reason it was so important is because the Bears, who knocked off the Falcons 42-14, will next visit Pasadena, the prohibitive favorite to win the league banner.
Each team scored a touchdown in the first and second quarters, but then the Bears tallied four scores in the second half including three in the third quarter.
Junior quarterback Chris Kulikov passed for a score and ran for a tally and senior running back Marcus Manahan tacked on two rushing scores.
Senior wide receiver Dilan Webster (69 yards on three receptions) picked up a fumble and ran 23 yards for a touchdown and junior wide receiver Noah Frenkel found the end zone on a run.
“We moved the football. We scored two of the four and we were driving at the end,” said Burroughs coach Jesse Craven of the first half. “They [Crescenta Valley] did a great job in the first half controlling time. They’re so well coached. They controlled the clock in the first half. In the second half we were able to get some stops and get good field position and take advantage of that. We got the turnover. After the score we got a pick and the first play we got a score. We were able to get some momentum back.”
With the game knotted 14-14 at halftime, the Bears (5-1 and 1-0 in league) stopped the Falcons (1-5 and 0-1 in league) on fourth down when reserve quarterback Alexander Barseghyzan was tackled for a two-yard loss on fourth and two from the Crescenta Valley 40.
Playing with a short field, but after Burroughs was tagged with a penalty that placed the ball at the Falcon 45, Manahan ripped off a 30-yard run.
Kulikov then added a 13-yard scamper that put the ball at the Falcon two-yard line.
Manahan added a yard on a run and delivered the final yard with 7:10 left in the third quarter to make it 21-14.
“Our offensive line performed amazingly. They started changing their defense up and tried to stop us, but we found a way through that,” said Manahan, who had 100 yards rushing on 14 carries. “It’s amazing what they do for me. I’m so grateful for what they do for me.”
Manahan then spoke about the big obstacle ahead which he knows isn’t going to be easy.
“They’ve always been a challenge, and especially with all their transfers,” he said of the Bulldogs. “I know it’s going to be a tough matchup. I know that our team, in order to beat them, we have to be strong together. We have to come together throughout the whole week and practice hard every day and really put into the game on Friday.”
On the Falcons’ next series, Barseghyan was intercepted by senior wide receiver/defensive back Brian Noguchi, who made an amazing catch.
With the ball resting at the Crescenta Valley 43, Kulikov found Webster (69 yards on three receptions) on the first play as the lead swelled to 28-14 with 6:45 left in the frame.
The Falcons were stopped on their next possession and had to punt and after a nifty return from Frenkel which placed the ball at the Crescenta Valley 28, a two-play drive followed and was capped when Frenkel (56 yards on five rushes) added a 20-yard dash as 3:50 remained in the third period and saw the Bears stretch their lead to 35-14.
The Falcons had a decent march working on their next series as they began from the Crescenta Valley 18 and moved to the Falcon 42 but turned the ball over on a fumble at the Burroughs 48.
Three plays were needed for the Bears to move ahead 42-14 as Kulikov raced 60 yards for the touchdown as 10:23 was left in the fourth quarter.
“They played man coverage all night with no safeties and really no linebackers and the defensive backs would be back pedaling, and I saw the blitz coming and I know I didn’t have much time, so I knew there weren’t going to be any linebackers, so I took off up the middle and scored,” Kulikov said of the run.
On the game’s initial possession, Kulikov orchestrated a nine-play, 69-yard trek that witnessed Manahan carrying the ball four times for 27 yards including the final yard that put the Bears ahead 7-0 with 8:31 left in the frame.
“It was close in the first half. Our defense played a lot better which let us have the ball more on offense, so we just executed more on offense,” said Kulikov who completed seven of 15 passes for 98 yards with one interception. “Everyone put the foot on the gas and were aggressive.”
Kulikov, who had 105 yards on four carries, also addressed next week’s game versus the Bulldogs.
“This is probably one of the best if not the best team we’re going to play all year, but we’re going to come in prepared and locked in and I’m excited,” he said.
The Falcons answered with a 73-yard, six-play drive as junior quarterback Jacob Deno hit senior running back Shade Schaefer with a 47-yard pass as 5:33 remained in the first period.
Burroughs took a 14-7 lead with 5:43 left in the opening half when Kulikov found junior wide receiver Ryan Hernandez (29 yards on four catches) with a 22-yard pass, but had the ball jarred loose which Webster scooped up and then raced into the end zone for a 14-7 advantage.
The Falcons evened it at 14-14 when Barseghyan hit junior running back/wide receiver Christian Flores with a 17-yard screen pass that finalized an eight-play, 50-yard march as 1:29 was left in the second quarter.