BURBANK -- It's called “The Big Game” for a reason.
For years now, seemingly too many to count, crosstown rivals Burroughs and Burbank have met on the football field to decide which team is the better overall unit, and thus, own city bragging rights for the next year.
The programs settled their differences once again Thursday night, this time in front of a packed house of more than 7,500 fans. The action, of course, lived up to the hype. It was another classic game in a long line of classics
Cristobal Escobar kicked a 20-yard field as time expired as Burroughs rallied from a 28-point deficit to defeat Burbank, 38-35, and clinch at least a share of the Pacific League championship.
“There was a lot of pressure on me to make that kick, I mean this game means everything to us and to them,’’ Escobar said. “It was like things were in slow motion. But once I got my foot on the ball, I knew the kick was good. It was like a dream, we came back to beat our biggest rival. What a game.’’
The Indians (6-4, 6-1) trailed by what appeared to be a truly insurmountable deficit, four touchdowns, midway through the second quarter. Giving up to their despised counterparts was never an option though. With the loss, Burbank (7-3, 5-2) missed out on an a chance to pick up a piece of the league title.
If Arcadia (6-3, 5-1) loses to Crescenta Valley (4-5, 2-4) in Friday’s regular-season finale Friday, Burroughs will win the title outright.
The Burroughs offense struggled throughout the first half, but finally found its rhythm in the fourth quarter. Lucas Yanez hit his twin brother, Tyler, on a 50-yard touchdown pass with 1:44 remaining to tie the score at 35-35.
“Things just started clicking for us, when I needed a big play, I looked for Tyler,’’ Lucas Yanez said. “We have this crazy connection. I know what he’s thinking and he knows what is on my mind, most times.’’
Trailing by 14 points at the end of the third quarter, the Indians needed a spark and Matt Volland provided one to help move the ball deep inside Burbank territory. Minutes later, Zander Anding scored on a 10-yard touchdown run to cut Burbank’s lead to 35-28 with 9:16 remaining in the fourth quarter.
With a 28-14 advantage in the third quarter, all signs pointed to Burbank putting the game away. Jose Rodriguez, however, dropped what would have been a 28-yard touchdown pass from Adam Colman. On the next play from scrimmage, the Bulldogs failed to convert on fourth down and the Indians took over.
Burroughs seized the momentum as Lucas Yanez picked up 50 yards on the ground. Then, he found his sibling for a 22-yard touchdown pass. At that point, the Indians were down 28-21 with 5:17 left in the third quarter.
“We knew we could come back,’’ Tyler Yanez said. “This win, against our biggest rival, is huge. It hasn’t sunk in yet, but when it does, it’s going to be great feeling. This is what football is all about, I can tell you that.’’
Burbank relied on Ulisies Ochoa throughout.
Early in the fourth quarter, the senior running back picked up a couple of key first downs and Colman capped the drive with a 1-yard touchdown run to give the Bulldogs a 35-21 lead with 11:56 left in the game.
With a three-touchdown lead at the end of the first quarter, Burbank refused to let up. And accordingly, Ochoa scored on an 8-yard touchdown run to give the Bulldogs a 28-0 advantage minutes into the second quarter.
“We set the pace in the beginning, but had some breakdowns late,’’ Ochoa said. “Losing to Burroughs is tough, it’s never easy against a big rival. I am proud to say I played in this game though. It was classic, no doubt.’’
In the second quarter, Volland appeared to return a kickoff for a long touchdown. But a penalty nullified the score and gave the Indians the ball at the Burbank 38-yard line. Finding the end zone was just a matter of time.
On the ensuing snap, Anding picked up 20 yards. Three plays later, lineman Lester Quintana gave Zander a good block and he scored on a 14-yard touchdown run to cut the deficit to 21 points with 7:15 left before halftime.
The Burroughs offense was just getting started. Lucas Yanez connected with Nick Brown on a 20-yard touchdown, and all of a sudden, the Indians were in business and trailed 28-14 with 2:13 left in the second quarter.
Burbank got off to a great start after returning the opening kickoff to midfield. Minutes later, Ryan Thanarantnam caught a 7-yard touchdown pass from Colman to give the Bulldogs a 7-0 lead with 10:23 left in the first.
Shortly thereafter, Burbank extended the lead to a pair of touchdowns. Ochoa scored on a 3-yard run to give the Bulldogs a 14-0 lead with 4:44 remaining in the first quarter.
Ochoa got things done on the defensive side of the ball too. He intercepted a Lucas Yanez pass and returned it 40 yards for a touchdown to give the Bulldogs a 21-0 lead at the 4:14 mark of the opening quarter.