CARPENTERSVILLE —Dundee-Crown controlled the game for the first 24 minutes, but penalties and mental errors opened the door for Burlington Central to come back in the second half for a 15-9 win Friday night in the Rockets’ first Fox Valley Conference game.
The Chargers ended the first half up 9-0, but Burlington Central turned the tables in the second half, outgaining D-C 112-49 and out. While D-C’s running game stalled with minus-2 yards in the second half, the Rockets’ shifted into high gear, rushing for 92 second-half yards.
D-C coach Mike Steinhaus attributed the second half slump to penalties, turnovers and discipline.
“Chalk that up to not being disciplined at the moment,” Steinhaus said.
The Chargers jumped out to a 9-0 lead behind a first quarter field goal and a 1-yard touchdown run from senior quarterback Evan Echlin.
Echlin had a long road to the starting spot for Dundee-Crown, and was excited to start his first game after missing his sophomore season due to a pair of surgeries on his throwing elbow, and sitting out his junior season.
Echlin beat out junior quarterback Bryan Matthew Ward Jr. to fill the shoes of graduated quarterback Josh Raby, who threw for more than 1,500 yards and 15 touchdowns last season.
Echlin played key roles in both scores, setting up the field goal by catching his own screen pass after it was tipped, and scrambling for 4 yards. Echlin later punched it in from 1-yard out to put D-C up two scores. He was 10 for 17 with 103 yards to go with his rushing touchdown.
The first half went well for the Chargers, but a recurring theme was their difficulties with penalties. D-C racked up eight penalties for 46 yards, many of them pre-snap.
D-C’s problems with penalties and harnessing snaps both led to Burlington scores. On their first second half possession, the Chargers started at their own 31-yard line before a holding penalty and delay of game led them to punt from their own 13.
The Rockets started at D-C’s 45, and after five plays, running back Gavin Sarvis bounced around the edge from 14 yards out to put Burlington on the board and trim D-C’s lead to two.
In the fourth quarter, a crucial disconnect on the snap led to a fumble on D-C’s 18-yard line, and a Rocket recovery on the 13. Two plays later, quarterback Mark Ganziano pulled the ball at the very last second on a read option and ran it in from 10-yards out after it appeared the Chargers had bottled up Sarvis. Sarvis ran in the two-point conversion to make it 15-9 with 6:22 remaining.
“You have some inexperienced guys in there, they’re playing hard and they make mistakes,” Steinhaus said.
The win marked Burlington’s first in the FVC. For head coach Brian Melvin, it was a watershed moment for him and the program.
“What these kids have had to go through since we found out we were going into the Fox Valley, no kid should ever have to go through,” Melvin said. “They’ve been told that they’re not going to win at all, they bonded together, they changed the culture this offseason, and it was the most unbelievable game I’ve ever been a part of."
STAR OF THE GAME
Dundee Crown, Sr., WR
Lopez caught six passes for 60 yards, and played a key role in Dundee-Crown’s late attempt to retake the lead. While the attempt ultimately came up short, Lopez had a 24-yard catch on a 3rd and 8, and a 26-yard catch on a 2nd and 12 to keep the Chargers alive down the stretch.
Burlington Central 15, Dundee-Crown 9
Dundee-Crown 3 6 0 0 — 9
Burlington Central 0 0 7 8 — 15
DC-FG Alamillo 38, 3:10
DC-Echlin 1 run (Kick blocked), 2:24
BC-Sarvis 14 run (Solomon kick), 4:25
BC-Ganziano 10 run (Sarvis run), 6:22