Defense saves Elks homecoming
Burleson found itself in an unfamiliar situation Friday as the Elks trailed Joshua most of the night.
With 74 seconds left to play, the Elks took their first lead, then intercepted a pass on the Owls first play from scrimmage to secure a 17-14 District 9-5A win on Homecoming at Burleson ISD Stadium.
“The kids never gave up,” Burleson coach Gary McElroy said. “Our defense played lights out tonight. Our defense won the game tonight. Because the defense played so great we were close enough to win it late.”
Joshua came into the game fresh off its first District win since 2012 sporting a feisty defense that made things difficult for the Elks most of the night.
“People can say what they want about Joshua,” McElroy said. “But they have a lot to do with what happened in the first half. They are night and day different than what they have been in the past few years.”
With a four-game winning streak in jeopardy, Burleson’s defense made play after play to keep the Elks within striking distance.
In the fourth quarter, Burleson’s offense woke up. It tallied 14 points to ease the Elks past Joshua.
“We finally put things together in the fourth quarter,” McElroy said. “Joshua was very physical on defense and played smash mouth, grind-it-out football on offense. They made things difficult for us.”
With the win, the Elks (5-0, 2-0) are off to their best start since 2009. Joshua (3-2, 1-1) saw a two-game winning streak end. Burleson plays at Everman Friday night.
Early in the fourth quarter, Joshua scored on a 6-yard touchdown pass from Josh Kelso to Hayden Chittum, giving the Owls a 14-3 lead with 11:53 to play in the game,
The Elks didn’t take long to get back into the game when Jacob Amador hit Aden Anderson for a 71-yard scoring strike that sliced Joshua’s lead to 14-10 at the 10:48 mark of the fourth quarter.
Burleson’s defense forced a punt with a three-and-out giving Burleson the ball at the Owls 48 with 4:12 to play.
Amador then led an 11-play scoring drive that would result in the game-winner. Amador finished the drive off with a one-yard touchdown run on fourth-and-one with 1:14 to play. Anderson set up the score with a nice catch.
On the Owls next play from scrimmage, Burleson’s Sam Martin completed the comeback with an interception. The Elks’ defense didn’t allow Joshua a first down in the fourth quarter when the Owls needed to move the ball to protect their lead.
“Sam Martin’s interception was huge,” McElroy said. “They tried to throw it deep and Sam had great coverage and picked the pass off.”
The game started slowly as neither offense could get anything going.
Joshua’s defense gave the Owls a scoring opportunity with an interception, but the Elks’ defense rose up, making a stand inside the Burleson 10 by forcing a turnover on downs.
In the second quarter, Joshua’s offense put together a 15-play drive that ate seven minutes off the clock. The Owl’s had a 16-yard touchdown called back by a chop block and other penalties that stalled the Joshua offense.
Elks’ defense made another fourth-down stop, this time at the Burleson 11.
Burleson didn’t help itself with three first-half turnovers. Those were the first turnovers the Elks have committed this season.
“We didn’t play well offensively in the first half,” McElroy said. “We gave them the ball in good field position numerous times, but our defense held strong.”
With only a 1:18 to go in the half, an Elk fumble allowed Joshua to take over the ball on the Burleson 27. Two plays later, Joshua quarterback Josh Kelso found Mitch Minton for a 32-yard touchdown and a 7-0 lead.
The Elks’ special teams set up their offense at midfield on the ensuing kickoff and Burleson’s offense moved the ball to the Owls 12. As time expired, Edgar Lopez hit a 29-yard field goal cutting the Owls lead to 7-3 at halftime.