Nathan Mollat/Daily Journal
Burlingame running back Manase Palu scored three touchdowns and was part of a Panther ground attack that piled up 332 yards in a 51-0 shellacking of South City.
Any kind of negatives Burlingame football coach John Philipopoulos sees on tape of his team’s game against South City Friday night would simply be nitpicking.
That’s because the Panthers did very little wrong. Offense, defense and special teams were firing on all cylinders for Burlingame as the Panthers put on a clinic in a 51-0 pounding of the Warriors in South San Francisco.
“When you work hard and do it during the week (leading up the game), good things are going to happen,” Philipopoulos said. “That’s been a big thing for us. … We have to play with 100 percent effort on every single play. The kids are buying into it.”
It’s hard to even know where to begin to describe Burlingame’s domination. How about special teams, that saw the Panthers return a punt for a touchdown and kick a 37-yard field goal? What about an offense that piled up 343 yards of offense?
No. Let’s start with the Panthers’ defense. That unit allowed only three first downs for the game, all in the first half. They intercepted a pass and also recovered three South City fumbles. They allowed the Warriors only 33 yards of offense in the first half and were even more stingy in the second half. All told, South City mustered a measly 53 yards of total offense for the game — 32 yards rushing and 21 yards passing.
“Wow. What do you say to that?” Philipopoulos said when told that stat. “I didn’t expect this at all. I was expecting a tight football game.”
It didn’t take long for Burlingame (3-0 overall) to put South City (2-2) in a hole. The Warriors took the opening kickoff and after picking up an initial first down, were forced to punt.
Burlingame punt returner Robby Baumgarten caught the ball at his own 30, got to the sideline and out-ran the Warriors’ coverage team for a 70-yard punt return for a touchdown just over three minutes into the game.
After forcing the Warriors to punt on their ensuing possession, the Panthers took over at their own 43 and went 57 yards on seven plays, with Manase Palu punching it in from five yards out.
Less than seven minutes into the game and Burlingame was up 14-0. The rout was on.
“We got off to a fast start and that’s been our M.O. (this season),” Philipopoulos said.
After the teams exchanged turnovers, Burlingame marched down to the South City 20-yard line before the drive stalled.
No problem. The Panthers brought on placekicker Seamus Gill, who booted a 37-yard field goal to put Burlingame up 17-0 just two plays into the second quarter.
The Panthers’ next score came on a short field after the South City punter was tackled at his own 10-yard line following a bad snap. Four plays later, Keone Keahi slammed into the end zone from two yards out for a 24-0 lead.
And the Panthers still weren’t done. After the Warriors’ fourth punt of the half, Burlingame took over at its own 35 and embarked on its longest drive of the night, going 65 yards on 10 plays — converting on a fourth-and-4 from the South City 18. Manase Palu capped the drive with his second score of the night for a 31-0 Burlingame lead.
Manase Palu added his third score of half late in the second quarter to give Burlingame a 37-0 lead at halftime.
The Panthers received the second-half kickoff and promptly scored again, with Keahi scoring his second touchdown of the night from a yard out for a 44-0 lead.
Manase Palu’s younger brother, sophomore Leipeli Palu, got into the scoring act on Burlingame’s next possession, bolting into the end zone from 28 yards out for the Panthers’ final score of the night.
All told, 10 Burlingame runners accounted for 332 yards. Keahi led the way with 88 yards on 16 carries. Manase Palu added 76 yards on 11 runs and Baumgarten added 41 yards on just four carries.
“When you’re six deep at running back and you run as much as we do, it puts us in a good position,” Philipopoulos said. “We’re pretty good. We’re on a roll. All we can do is prepare for our next opponent.”