For the second straight week, Burlington Central came out firing on all cylinders.
Capitalizing on a pair of botched Rockford Lutheran punt attempts, the Rockets seized a commanding 21-0 lead just eight minutes into Friday's nonconference game on Rocket Hill.
Central struggled offensively in the middle two quarters and the lost starting quarterback Johnny DiCostanzo to injury, but sophomore Jake Lenschow played well in relief as the Rockets put up 17 fourth quarter points to secure a convincing 38-7 victory.
"We came out on fire the last two weeks, but then we had another lull and I was not happy with that," said Rockets coach Brian Melvin. "To our credit we finished strong, and that's great, but there is so much stuff that we have to fix."
"It was the same exact mindset as Hampshire. We came out hard tonight and scored on our first three drives and totally stopped them defensively," said Rockets junior Nick Termini, who rushed for 92 yards and anchored the defense from the safety position.
Thanks to shortened fields, the Rockets (2-1) needed just nine offensive plays to cash in for three first quarter scores.
DiCostanzo lofted a perfectly placed 18-yard touchdown pass to Layn Reynolds in the back corner of the end zone to open the scoring. Nate Figurski and Termini followed with nifty scoring runs of 11 and 58 yards, respectively, to stun the Crusaders (0-3).
However, the Rockets generated just 2 first downs the rest of the half and committed six penalties. They also lost a fumble on an option pitch at their own 10 that led to the Crusaders only score with 2:46 left in the half.
"We take that break and start to slow down. We're at home, having a good time and we start to get lackadaisical," Termini said. "I think we did a good job re-evaluating the situation and lot letting them come back," Termini said.
Central's defense forced three second half turnovers and limited the Crusaders to just 171 yards of total offense.
"We challenged our defense to fly around the ball and they have a lot of nice athletes over there," Melvin said. "We did not take them lightly at all."
DiCostanzo went down on the second series of the third quarter and did not return. Melvin said he would be evaluated on Monday.
Lenschow completed 2-of-3 passes for 22 yards while Figurski (75 yards on 22 carries) and Termini added fourth quarter scores on the ground. Andrew Solomon capped the scoring with a 28-yard field goal.
"We threw a little bit at the end to get his feet wet, in case Johnny's hurt, but Jake's just a baller. He's a varsity football player," Melvin said.
Melvin credited coordinators Rob Stover and Chuck Abbott for putting together solid game plans on both sides of the ball.
"I have the best two coordinators in the state," Melvin said.