Things started poorly Friday night for the Burlington Central football team. And it only got worse.
The Rockets lost senior starting quarterback Ryan Ritchie on the second play from scrimmage and then gave up 40 unanswered points in a 40-6 loss to Stillman Valley in a Big Northern Conference crossover game at Rocket Hill.
"Offensively that put us in a spot," Central coach Rich Crabel said of Ritchie's injury. "That doesn't have anything to do with how poorly we played defensively."
Ritchie hit Joe Breeden for a 14-yard gain on the first play from scrimmage to open the game. On the next play, Ritchie rushed for a 7-yard gain and got twisted down. The senior got up and tried to go to the huddle, but eventually hobbled to the sideline. He said the left-leg injury isn't an ankle or knee injury. It appeared to be more the shin area.
Central (1-1) lost junior backup quarterback Parth Patel during the week to a dislocated thumb, Crabel said. Third-string quarterback Tyler Majewski didn't get reps in practice until Wednesday night and had to come in.
The Rockets' offense struggled, gaining only 36 yards of offense the rest of the first half. They lost 8 yards on their first two possessions of the second half. With the score already 40-0, Central had its best drive on its final drive. The Rockets gained 63 yards and Sean Garbarino capped the drive with a 1-yard touchdown run with 57 seconds remaining in the game.
Majewski was 9-of-14 passing for 44 yards and an interception.
"When you lose your quarterback on the (second) play of the game, it just takes you out of your game plan. I've been there," Stillman Valley coach Mike Lalor said. "Burlington, I think, is still a very good football team."
The Cardinals (1-1) scored on their first three possessions, including an 18-play, 83-yard drive that took 8:45 off the clock, to lead 20-0. Matt Stone scored his third touchdown of the game, a 21-yard run after picking up a fumble, with 29 seconds left in the first half as Stillman Valley took a 26-0 halftime lead. Zac Hare and Ryne St. Clair added second-half touchdowns for the Cardinals, who had 403 yards of offense, including 344 on the ground. Stone had 146 yards rushing on 15 carries.
"They didn't do anything that surprised me, but I think they sure surprised our kids," Crabel said. "I don't think they understood how much (Stillman Valley) was going to fly around and hit them."