Once Omaha Burke stopped stopping itself Friday night, the Bulldogs could focus on shutting down Millard West for a 31-14 victory.
After racking up 68 yards on six penalties in the first quarter — and one for 11 yards on the first play of the second quarter — the top-ranked Bulldogs had more penalty yards (79) than yards from scrimmage (72).
That changed on the drive that followed the second-quarter holding penalty. The Bulldogs (2-0) covered 81 yards on 14 plays for their second TD and a lead they would not lose in front of an estimated 3,600 at Burke Stadium.
Burke’s punishing ground game wore down the No. 5 Wildcats, who held a noticeable size advantage. Bulldogs senior running back James Burks, who had to shoulder most of the rushing load in 2017, was more than happy to share the work.
“You just have to keep pounding the rock, and it’s nice for me to keep my legs fresh,” Burks said. “We like to mix things up so the defense doesn’t know how to pick up on that.”
Burks had 14 carries for 59 yards and one touchdown, and junior Jaylon Roussell led all backs with 114 yards on 11 carries.
A balanced offense — 215 rushing yards, 212 passing — with a share of flashy plays to go with the lightning flashing to the south and east helped keep 1-1 Millard West guessing much of the game.
Burke’s defense did its job almost as well. The Bulldogs ran six more plays than the Wildcats — 59-53 — but West managed only a net of 223 yards, including 89 rushing.
Bulldogs coach Paul Limongi was pleased with how the team bounced back from the early mistakes.
“I think both teams were a little jittery at first. Big game,” Limongi said. “Once things settled down a little bit, you saw our true colors, at least. After that, I thought we played better in all phases.”
A 28-yard pass from Tyler Chadwick to Xavier Watts on Burke’s opening drive opened the scoring. The drive had started after Millard West fumbled on its opening possession.
The Wildcats battled back to tie the game 7-7 when they caught the Bulldogs napping on fourth down. No one went right with Millard West wide receiver Dalys Beanum, who stood and waited for the pass from Tristan Gomes before racing to the end zone for the 36-yard touchdown.
After the teams traded punts, the Bulldogs started the signature 14-play drive on a 15-yard run by Roussell with one second remaining in the first quarter. There were only three passes on the drive, but the first one was the biggest.
Facing third-and-17 from their own 27 after the holding penalty and a sack of Chadwick by Braydon Cundiff, Chadwick dumped a screen pass to Burks.
The 5-foot-10, 175-pound senior took it 42 yards down the sideline to get the Bulldogs out of a jam and start a fresh set of downs at Millard West’s 31. Burks was the back who did most of the work on that drive, and he capped it with a 3-yard touchdown run to the right side.
Burke built its lead to 21-7 before halftime with a seven-play, 80-yard drive that took just 2:58 and ended with a 30-yard TD pass from Chadwick to Watts 50 seconds before intermission.
Millard West ran just five plays from scrimmage in the second quarter for a net of zero yards, including two kneel-down plays to run out the clock after Watts’ TD.
The Bulldogs added a field goal in the third quarter and a 12-yard touchdown run by Tyreece Wynne with 4:32 remaining in the game. Millard West closed the scoring with a TD run by Gomes with nine seconds to play.
Millard West (1-1) 7 0 0 7— 14
At Omaha Burke (2-0) 7 14 3 7 — 31
OB: Xavier Watts 28 pass from Tyler Chadwick (Colin Campin kick)
MW: Dalys Beanum 36 pass from Tristan Gomes (Sam Fedde kick)
OB: James Burks 3 run (Campin kick)
OB: Michael Payne 30 pass from Larry Bonner (Campin kick)
OB: Campin 20 FG
OB: Tyreece Wynne 12 run (Campin kick)
MW: Tristan Gomes 3 run (Fedde kick)
Att.: 3,600 (est.)
Rushing: MW, Tristan Gomes 6-36, Ethan Valencia 4-17, Nate Glantz 6-17, Jackson Wright 8-15, Jackson Hazen 1-7, Dalys Beanum 1-(minus 1), Team 2-(minus 2). OB, Jaylon Roussell 11-114, James Burks 14-59, Tyreece Wynne 7-40, Gio Mainor 2-10, Tyler Chadwick 3-(minus 7), Team 1-(minus 1).
Passing: MW, Gomes 6-14-0 83, Glantz 5-11-0 51. OB, Chadwick 14-21-0 212.
Receiving: MW, Beanum 4-74, Kaedyn Odermann 4-45, Gomes 1-10, Jacob Harmdierks 1-5, Hazen 1-0. OB, Xavier Watts 8-99, Mainor 2-13, Burks 1-42, Payne 1-30, Billy Kenedy 1-26, Nick Henrich 1-2.
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