After yielding 43 points in a loss to Half Moon Bay on September 2, the Burlingame football team was anxious to get back on the field and in the win column in their home opener last Friday. Led by an outstanding performance by the defense and a multi-faceted rushing attack, the Panthers pulled away in the second half to rout the Alvarez Eagles 48-7 and improve to 2-1 on the season.
Perhaps not wanting to give up a special teams touchdown on the first play of the game, as happened in Half Moon Bay, Burlingame elected to receive the opening kickoff after winning the coin toss. They marched 76 yards down the field in 14 plays, including a fourth-down conversion, and finished the drive on a three-yard touchdown run by Sean Saunders. The Panthers rushed for a total of 402 yards on the night and averaged over six yards per carry.
The lead held throughout the first half thanks to a ferocious defensive effort. Burlingame came close to scoring on its next three drives, but twice turned it over on downs and once fumbled it to the Eagles inside the Alvarez five yard-line. But Alvarez did not pick up a first down until the second quarter and only had eight for the game.
Burlingame extended its lead late in the first half on a six-yard scoring run from Cole Friedlander. Alvarez responded quickly to pull within a score, but the Panthers held the ball for the remainder of the half to maintain a 14-7 advantage.
The Eagles began the second half with the ball, but at around midfield, Arman Dizadji broke through the offensive line as the Alvarez quarterback dropped back to pass. As the ball was released, Dizadji delivered a vicious hit, causing the ball to be underthrown. Friedlander stepped in front of the receiver and intercepted the pass. The Panthers recorded three interceptions on the night.
Burlingame took advantage of the Friedlander pick when quarterback Carlo Lopiccolo handed off to Friedlander on a jet sweep to the right, but Friedlander then handed it to Saunders, who was coming around to the left. The Eagles were completely fooled. Saunders scampered 58 yards nearly untouched to the end zone. He finished with 155 yards rushing and two touchdowns.
On Alvarez’s ensuing possession, they were forced to punt, and the long snap sailed high over the punter’s head. He was forced to cover the ball at his own seven, resulting in a turnover on downs. Friedlander cashed it in with his second score of the game, giving the Panthers a 27-7 lead.
In the fourth quarter, with the game all but in hand, Burlingame could afford to experiment a little by giving the ball to its second-string backs. Sophomore Curtis Lauti scored two touchdowns late in the game, and junior Jake Scigliano added another. When it was all said and done, the Panthers had outscored Alvarez 34-0 in the second half and had touchdowns on all five of their second-half possessions. Alvarez managed just 97 yards of offense after halftime.
In their final tuneup for the tough PAL Bay division schedule, Burlingame travels to South San Francisco this Friday, September 16 at 7 p.m. The Panthers then have a bye week before opening league play at home on September 30 against nemesis Sacred Heart Prep. The Gators were the only team to beat Burlingame in the regular season each of the past two years, so expect Burlingame to be fired up and hungry for revenge.