DAY 14: Elks trample South Hills to advance
Sports Editors Note:
This is the seventh in a series of 17 football game stories that will tout either a Burleson or Centennial victory. The series is meant to get you excited about the upcoming season and also serve as a lead up to the release of our 2016 Football Section in our Aug. 18 edition.
GRAND PRAIRIE — Preston Paden came up with a virus Thursday. His play was sick Friday.
The senior compiled a career best 293 yards rushing and tossed for 174 more, lifting Burleson past Fort Worth South Hills, 50-14, at
Grand Prairie’s Gopher-Warrior Bowl in a Class 5A Division I Region I bi-district playoff game.
Burleson (8-3) advances to meet Lake Dallas (9-2) at 7:30 p.m. Friday in an area playoff game at Bedford’s Pennington Field.
“That’s great for the kids, great for the program,” Burleson coach Gary McElroy said. “It says so much for the coaches work and dedication. [Our players] want to learn and do well. They set their mind to being a special team.”
For the third time in the past four games, Burleson posted a two-score lead in the first quarter and used it to stretch out a victory, marking the first time in school history Burleson has advanced to the second round of the playoffs in consecutive seasons.
Paden averaged 10.5 yards per carry, with three rushing scores.
“We were trying to pound it as much as we could,” he said.
Nick Adams’ interception on the first play of the game set the defensive tone and Paden scored his first of three rushing touchdowns on a 29-yard carry with 4:58 left in the first quarter. He struck again 3:51 later on a 41-yard run to give Burleson a 13-0 lead.
“I saw the quarterback look at [Wallace],” Adams said. “Solomon [Johnson] was there. He tipped it and it landed in my hands.”
Kobe Slaughter followed South Hills’ only score until the final possession of the game with a 1-yard touchdown run, set up by Paden’s 32-yard run, for the game-winning score and a 20-7 lead with 6:18 left in the second quarter.
Hayden Whitten converted a season-long 40-yard field goal with 35 seconds left before halftime.
The defense turned in its best performance of the season stopping the run. It allowed just 50 yards in the game, with tackle Kody Russey and ends Trey Schuman and Corey Freelon consistently disrupting the South Hills offense. It was their defensive shift that five times forced a South Hills false start.
That defensive front combined for 8-1/2 tackles and 14 hurries.
“We told them before the game that if they could put pressure on the quarterback, we were going to win the game,” Burleson coach Gary McElroy said. “They dominated the offensive line. The quarterback had someone in his face all night.”
It was simple execution of practice during the week, Russey said.
“Once we get them [to false start] once, we get in their heads,” he said.
And it handed McElroy his 20th career win at Burleson. He has two of Burleson’s six all-time playoff victories.
After scoring on four of its final five possessions of the first half, Burleson scored on each of its final four possessions of the second half, as it stretched a 23-7 halftime lead into a 50-7 advantage before South Hills scored as time expired in the game.
“We did what we were supposed to do,” Paden said. “We need to build on the second half and carry that through to Lake Dallas.”
Jack Collins’ fumble recovery got Burleson going in the second half. It led three plays later to Paden’s third rushing touchdown of the game and 20th of the season on a 10-yard run.
Then Slaughter scored his second touchdown on a 10-yard run with 4:34 left in the third quarter and his third touchdown on a 1-yard run with 11:10 left to play in the game.
David Tubig scored his ninth rushing touchdown of the season on a 12-yard carry with 1:59 left in the fourth quarter.
Adams also made a touchdown-saving stop in the second half, with Burleson holding a 37-7 lead, when he jumped in front of a receiver in the end zone and swatted the ball away.
“They had the most challenging receivers we’ve seen,” Adams said. “We went out and stepped up on defense.”