There's an old saying that lack of preparation leads to great perspiration, but after host Marengo scored a touchdown in the first two minutes of Friday night's Big Northern East conference matchup, Burlington Central coaches may have felt as if they over-prepared for the host team. The Rockets' coaching staff made adjustments after that initial drive and Burlington Central came back to capture a 28-6 victory and become playoff eligible for the second straight year.
Junior running back Reilly Marino, who scored 2 of the Rockets' 4 touchdowns, thought the difference came from going back to the basics and rolling up their sleeves to work harder.
"I think the team picked it up more in the second half realizing we needed to do a little bit more work," Marino said. "We worked more as a team and our defense really picked it up in the second half."
Starting from its own 23-yard line, Marengo's first play from scrimmage was a reverse that ended in a 45-yard run by senior Casey Doyle. Justin Velasquez followed with a 14-yard run on the next play, and former running back turned quarterback John Lesiak ran it in from 11 yards out three plays later to give Marengo an early and stunning 6-0 lead.
Rockets head coach Rich Crabel admitted afterward that Marengo showed some new things that the coaches hadn't seen in their film preparation, but the necessary adjustments were made at halftime.
"They came out with some different stuff and we're very preparation-oriented," Crabel said. "Our kids freaked out a little bit and (Marengo) took advantage of it and shoved it down the field on us. But we made some minor adjustments and we played just a little bit better. They did a nice job of doubling up people we wanted to go to and they were able to get their middle linebacker out in coverage on our tight end, which most people can't do, so we had to change some little things."
It wasn't long, however, that the efforts they put into preparing for their rival soon paid dividends.
On its first possession Burlington Central (5-1, 4-0) drove down to the Marengo 25-yard line hoping to counter the initial score, but the Rockets turned the ball back over on downs to Marengo (1-5, 0-4) after two consecutive incompletions. The Indians' second drive didn't start nearly as successful as their first, and Ibrahim Sanson's interception and 10-yard return on 3rd-and-15 gave the Rockets the ball on the Indian 20-yard line. Marino scored the first of his 2 touchdowns from 4 yards out five plays later to give the Rockets a 7-6 lead as the first quarter came to a close.
The Rockets forced the Indians to punt again, but Jesse Henning boomed a 49-yard punt that appeared to pin the Rockets deep in their own territory, but sophomore Trevor Davison returned the punt 18 yards to get the Rockets back to their own 35. Three plays later, facing 3rd-and-4, quarterback Tyler Majewski hit Joe Breeden in stride down the right sideline for a 59-yard touchdown strike.
The Rockets scored their third touchdown of the evening with time running out in the third quarter. On an 11-play drive that lasted nearly five minutes, Majewski scored from 9 yards out to give the Rockets a 21-6 lead.
After the Indians went three-and-out, Davison ran for 15 yards and 6 yards on consecutive plays, and Majewski's 19-yard run brought the ball to the 5-yard line where Marino capped the scoring with a touchdown run on the next play.
Burlington Central hosts Richmond-Burton next Friday. Richmond-Burton defeated Rockford Christian 42-0 Friday night.