PALMDALE – The Palmdale High School Football team was right there.
On three separate drives in Friday night’s home opener against the Burroughs Burros, the Falcons were within a few yards – sometimes inches – of scoring a touchdown to give them some separation over their opponent.
But on each of those drives, they came up short. The result was a 29-22 loss to Burroughs High School (1-.0).
“I think Burroughs was more physical than us,” Palmdale head coach Jeff Williams said after the game. “They kicked our butt up front. They kicked our lineman on both sides of the ball. They just took us out of our game.”
In the third quarter with the Falcons down 21-14, they were in the middle of a nine-play drive, twice coming within only 10 yards of a touchdown to potentially tie the game. But a couple of pentalites pushed them back, especially a delay of game on fourth-and-nine.
After that, junior quarterback Aaron Bowie threw an interception, ending the possibility of a tie game.
On its very next drive with 7:13 to go in the third, the Falcons worked their way to the 1-yard line on third down and 22 with a 21-yard pass from Bowie to sophomore wide receiver Dillon Dobbins. That put Palmdale within 1 yard of a first down, which they completed.
Then at first-and-goal, the Falcons had yet another opportunity to tie the game, but couldn’t capitalize over the next three plays and turned the ball over.
The Falcons, however, did manage to take a 22-21 lead over the Burros fourth quarter with 7:45 to play in the game. Dobbins caught a 75-yard pass junior quarterback Marcel Miller, who replaced Bowie late in the game.
Dobbins received for 227 yards Friday, and was a catalyst for the Falcons offense the entire second half. But Williams said although Dobbins played well, the rest of the team also needs to produce offensively.
“I think he stepped up when we had to have a spark,” Williams said of Dobbins. “But we have to have the rest of the offense be able to execute. We can’t just depend on a go-deep guy every time we need something. We have to have our offense execute.”
Things looked good for Palmdale at that point. But the Burros had one more drive in them. With just 1:31 left in the game, senior quarterback Austin McCullough started throwing for some serious yardage. In only four plays, he threw for 50 yards that culminated in a touchdown by junior wide receiver Riyad Khalifeh.
Burroughs started the game by wining possession after Palmdale turned the ball over in its initial kickoff. What resulted was a six-play drive in which Burros sophomore running back Evan Hernandez rushed for a 32-yard touchdown, giving the Burros an early 6-0 lead.
Burroughs then completed the two-point conversation, increasing its lead to 8-0.
In the Burros’ second drive of the game, McCollough and Hernandez went back to work. McCollough threw for 21 yards in the drive, and Hernandez rushed for 20 yards.
Hernandez scored his second TD of the game after a 13-yard rush into the end zone.
But Palmdale, not to be deterred, used strong play from Bowie and Dobbins to come back in late in the second quarter. With 2:36 left in the half, Bowie launched a long pass to Dobbins, gaining 55 yards. A penalty by Burroughs put the Falcons only 4 yards from the goal line.
Two plays later, Bowie finished the drive with a 1-yard rush for Palmdale’s first touchdown.
Bowie wasn’t done yet. He intercepted a pass that clipped the hands of a Burroughs player, giving the Falcons possession with 1:07 left in the half.
Bowie then threw a 20-yard pass to Dobbins on the first play of the drive, but was then sacked for a loss of 7 yards the very next play.
On fourth-and-seven, Bowie threw another 20-yard pass to Dobbins, who scored. Palmdale completed its second two-point conversion of the night, bringing the score to 21-14 in Burroughs’ favor.
Williams said Palmdale was simply not ready to play Friday night against the Burros.
“I think we lacked execution on both sides of the ball,” Williams said. “We were not prepared totally for that team and what they did for us. We made mistakes that we never make, and that’s due to a lack of preparation.”
Palmdale’s next game is at Valencia High School on Sept. 2.