By Bonta Hill
With only 19 players in uniform, Burton High School needed to be near perfect against visiting Hercules on Saturday.
The Pumas were far from perfect.
Burton dropped its home opener 38-0, as penalties, special team breakdowns, and the all-around performance from Hercules running back Marquis Davenport proved to be too much for the Pumas to overcome.
“With low numbers it’s hard to do anything,” said Burton head coach Anthony Rollins. “Hopefully it can go up from here, because there is no where else to go.”
The game was delayed for 25 minutes midway through the second quarter due to a scary injury to Burton running back Jamari Gant.
Gant took in inside handoff from quarterback Allan Abilar, and was immediately met by the Titan defense. During the process of the tackle, Gant felt his neck twist, and that kept him on the turf until paramedics arrived and took him to the hospital for further evaluation.
“The doctors said he should be all right, which is a beautiful thing,” Rollins said. “From what Jamari describes, he got picked up and felt someone hit him while he was in the air, and that’s when he felt his neck kind of twist. He’ll be fine. He’s a strong kid, and he’ll bounce back.”
Abilar did all he could to put Burton on the scoreboard. In the fourth quarter, his 22-yard scramble got the Pumas to the Hercules 18-yard line.
But the drive stalled when Abilar was sacked by a swarm of Hercules defenders and the Pumas best chance to score was squandered.
Abilar finished 3-for-12 for 56 yards passing and rushed five times for 41 yards, as the Pumas were held to six first downs on the day.
“Hercules has a lot of athletes and they are very talented,” Rollins said. “They were at the bottom of their league last year, but I wouldn’t sleep on them this season.”
Davenport touched the ball only eight times for the Titans, but four of those touches resulted into touchdowns.
He returned a kickoff for 55 yards, rushed for touchdowns of 41 and 21 yards, and had a 27-yard receiving touchdown. Davenport finished with 145 all-purpose yards.
Still, Hercules head coach Gerald Montgomery felt his team had a lot of room for improvement and credited Burton for playing hard despite their low numbers.
“Not bad [for a season opener], but we had a lot of mistakes from our receivers and running backs,” Montgomery said. “We have some improving to do, but Burton is tough. With the amount of players they had, they played hard and battled.”
H: 6:15 — Safety
H: 6:06 — Marquis Davenport 55-yard kick return (Loran Fonseca kick good)
H: 3:23 — Davenport 41-yard run (kick no good)
H: 2:13 — Davenport 21-yard run (Fonseca kick good)
H: 2:12 — Safety
H: 2:01 — Tyden Holmes 52-yard kickoff return (Fonseca kick good)
H: 2:00 — Davenport 27-yard catch from Daelen Robinson (kick no good)