In an edge-of-your-seat game against the Wilmington Wildcats Friday, the Red Devils lost 29-25 despite numerous scoring changes and a strong running game.
The first quarter was a slow start with both teams failing to score but accruing a variety of penalties, including false starts, block in the backs, holding and offsides.
Things heated up in the second quarter as Burlington senior captain and running back Joey Poland ran for an 85-yard touchdown, and a successful two-point conversion gave the Devils an early lead of 8-0. But the lead was short-lived as Wilmington’s Nick Iascone ended a seven-play drive with a one-yard touchdown; another successful two-point conversation tied the score at 8-8.
The Devils answered right back on their next drive as Poland ran a 71-yard touchdown and kicker Josh Pupa garnered another point, bringing the score to 15-8.
But before the half, the Wildcats evened the score again: In an 11-play drive starting from the 28-yard line, Wilmington quarterback Michael Lauder threw to wide receiver Conner Lovell for a touchdown, with a successful extra point bringing the score to 15-15.
Burlington squeezed in one final drive from the 33-yard line before the half as Pupa kicked a 38-yard field goal to bring the Devils to a three-point lead, 18-15.
After the band played and with second-half adjustments made, Wilmington received the second-half kickoff from the 39-yard line, with quarterback Lauder throwing to Tiago Gomez for a touchdown, bringing the score to 22-18 after a successful extra point. The score remained at 22-18 for the remainder of the third quarter as both teams failed to convert on their possessions.
The game heated back up entering the fourth when Burlington quarterback Anthony Gerrior was intercepted at the the 46-yard line by a Wilmington defender. But the Wildcats fumbled the ball three plays later, returning it to Burlington’s possession.
It was crunch time for Burlington from the 50-yard line. On a second-and-seven, Gerrior threw to wide receiver Charlie Hanafin for a 36-yard reception that brought the Devils to the 11-yard line. Two plays later, Poland gave the Devils the lead again with another touchdown from the six-yard line. Pupa’s successful extra point brought the score to 25-22.
Wilmington chewed out the clock on their next possession with another long 11-play drive that started from the 39-yard line. On a second-and-13 from the 14-yard line, Wilmington’s Lauder found wide receive Hunter Sands in the end zone to give the Wildcats the lead, 29-25 after the successful extra point.
Burlington needed a miracle as they began their final drive. Gerrior gave it one last shot, heaving the ball towards the end zone from the 36-yard line, but a Wilmington defender got in the way, crushing Burlington’s hopes for a comeback.
Burlington went home with a loss, but will keep their heads held high as they prepare for the 4-1 Melrose Red Raiders on October 13 at 7 p.m. at Fred Green Memorial Field.