DAY 3: Bissell’s route keeps Elks perfect
This is the third 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 as a lead up to the release of our 2016 Football Section in our Aug. 18 edition.
The last time Burleson had won consecutive games to start a season, this year’s biggest playmakers were starring in middle school.
A 33-yard touchdown pass from Preston Paden to Taylor Bissell with 43 seconds left, converting on fourth down for the first time in 2015 season, lifted Burleson past Keller Timber Creek, 42-36, at Burleson ISD Stadium.
Paden completed 15-of-24 passes for 272 yards and two touchdowns in the win. He also rushed for 208 yards on 28 carries. Eight of his 15 completions went to Bissell for 220 yards.
“Those two work well together,” Burleson coach Gary McElroy said. “A big part of the game plan was Preston running the ball and getting it to our receivers.”
Starting tailback Kobe Slaughter had a slight ankle injury that limited his effectiveness, McElroy said. That led to opportunities for David Tubig, who scored a touchdown for consecutive games, and Jaylen Johnson.
“They all know they’re going to get carries,” McElroy said. “If one of them gets hot, they’re going to get the ball. We probably need to get it to Jaylen a little more.”
In 2014, Burleson opened with a big win over Western Hills and then lost a big lead in the second half over Timber Creek that began a downward spiral resulting in an overtime loss and then a successive loss at Brewer.
Late in the fourth quarter last Friday, Konner Pittman’s interception led three plays later to Braxton Washington’s 4-yard touchdown run to knot the game at 36-36.
“It was like deja vu all over again,” McElroy said. “We discussed that we didn’t want to play overtime.”
Burleson responded by moving 40 yards in 10 plays to the Timber Creek 35, where it faced either a 52-yard field goal or a 4th-and-4.
Bissell convinced McElroy he could beat a safety playing him in man defense, McElroy said, and then he did. Paden found him on a deep post route and laid a perfect pass into his hands for the game-winning score.
Slaughter scored twice in the second half. He powered in for a 2-yard score to follow Bissell’s 73-yard reception to give Burleson a 29-28 lead with 41 seconds left in the third quarter. Then Slaughter hopped on a fumble in the end zone with 9:54 left in the game for his second touchdown to give Burleson a 36-28 lead.
Sophomore kicker Hayden Whitten also turned in a career-best outing when he converted on 3 of 4 field goal attempts in the first half. His 26-yard field goal as time expired in the second quarter gave Burleson a 23-21 halftime lead. It puts Whitten ahead of pace to break the school’s single-season field goal record.
Bissell needed just 12 seconds to score on a 75-yard pass from Paden on the game’s opening play from scrimmage and Burleson dominated the first quarter, but had just a 13-0 lead with 9:50 elapsed. Timber Creek responded and Burleson had to pull out a win inside the final minute.
“It was a combination of not covering our assignments and a lot of long runs made after we had them stopped at the line of scrimmage or in the backfield,” McElroy said.