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Burbank High football edged in semifinals by La Serna

Football: Bulldogs fall to La Serna in waning seconds, 28-21.

November 29, 2013|By Jeff Tully, jeff.tully@latimes.com
  • Burbank High School's #5 Joseph Pendleton runs the ball in game vs. Whittier's La Serna High School at California High in Whittier on Friday, Nov. 29, 2013. (Raul Roa/Staff Photographer)
Burbank High School's #5 Joseph Pendleton runs…

With its starting running backs unable to practice all week because of injuries prior to Burbank High’s CIF Southern Section Southeast Division semifinal, the Bulldogs were at a distinct disadvantage.

With star running back James Williams hobbled, Joseph Pendleton knocked out of the game in the first half and Tony Toledo not even suited up for Friday’s contest against No. 2 La Serna, Burbank turned to its defense to take some of the pressure off.

PHOTOS: Burbank High falls to La Serna in CIF playoff game

The Bulldogs’ defense did something no other opponent has been able to do against the Lancers in the playoffs — keep them in check for long periods.

However, despite their best efforts, La Serna was able to tally a touchdown late in the fourth quarter to earn a 28-21 victory at California High.

“What I liked about our guys is that we fought until the very end and they never gave up,” said Burbank Coach Hector Valencia, whose team earned wins against Mayfair and Santa Fe to earn a spot in the semifinals. “When they scored that last touchdown they were still out there trying to score. I have to give a lot of credit to my guys for that.”

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Williams, who came into the game with 1,433 yards and 22 rushing touchdowns, was nursing a sore ankle and was relatively ineffective. Williams was also keyed on by the La Serna (11-2) defense. The junior ended the game with 27 yards in 15 carries with no touchdowns.

“All of our backs were banged up and none of them really practiced this week,” Valencia said. “We had freshmen come in and take snaps because we didn’t have any of our running backs.

“And James not getting a lot of yards wasn’t his fault. They had a good game plan against him and he just wasn’t able to get the yards he usually does. But you can’t fault him for that. You can credit their defense for that. But our offense was there. We missed some opportunities and we left some points on the board for sure. But at least they gave the effort.”

One of those missed opportunities for Burbank (10-2) – which finished tied for second in the Pacific League – came with 10:28 left in the second quarter.

Burbank drove the ball to the La Serna two-yard line and faced fourth down. However, a quarterback sneak by Ryan Meredith was stopped at the one.

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