BURLINGAME – Midway through the first quarter with his team trailing 14-6, Burlingame coach Jeff Slater yelled “We look soft!” as his team jogged toward the sideline. That flipped the switch for Bearcats, who scored the next 28 points and cruised to a 70-36 win.
Burlingame (8-1) advances to the second round of the Eight-Man Division I playoffs for the fourth consecutive season.
“For the first time in several years, we came out and played like we were trying to get a feel for Bennington. We were tentative,” Slater said. “That is not what we’re used to here. We usually come out and attack. But, for a lot of guys, this was the first playoff game they’ve played in.”
The Bearcats weren’t passive for long. After the Bulldogs (5-4) took an early lead on Javon Allen’s 57-yard kickoff return, Burlingame scored four unanswered touchdowns to take control.
A breakout game from senior receiver Trevin Lewis, who had 146 yards on four receptions, helped to fuel the Bearcats’ run. Lewis hauled in a 51-yard catch on Burlingame’s first play from scrimmage and added grabs of 36, 35 and 23 yards.
The 35-yarder from quarterback Montana Giffin late in the first quarter gave Burlingame the lead for good.
“I wasn’t sure we were going to throw my way that often, but Montana was on,” Lewis said. “It’s a good feeling to have a big game, especially at home in front of our fans. We love playing here.”
While Giffin torched Bennington’s defense for 249 yards through the air, including 210 in the first half, running back Seth Greenwood sliced through the defense for 159 yards and five touchdowns on just 13 carries.
“Montana Giffin was great, Seth Greenwood was great, and Trevin Lewis made several big plays,” Slater said. “Our seniors stepped up big-time tonight, and we needed their experience.”
That experience was key early, as the Bearcats didn’t panic despite a punishing drive by Bennington on the opening possession of the game and Allen’s long kick return.
Giffin hit Lewis on a 36-yard pass moments after the return, setting up Greenwood’s 9-yard run and the quarterback’s two-point conversion pass to Lucas Masters to knot the score at 14.
Burlingame forced a point on the next series, and Giffin and Lewis connected for the go-ahead touchdown.
“We planned on going to Trevin early tonight,” Slater said. “Trevin has that long stride, and if he gets behind you, it’s going to be tough to keep up with him.”
The Bulldogs struggled to keep up with the Bearcats once they fell behind. The Bearcats tacked on two more touchdowns on a 2-yard run from Greenwood and a 15-yard pass from Giffin to Greenwood to build a 34-14 lead.
Bennington managed to hang around until the latter stages of the third quarter, but a 56-yard kickoff return for a score by Cole Thomas and 16-yard scoring strike from Giffin to Masters pushed the lead to 34 points.
“Once we settled in, we were fine,” Slater said. “We get to play underdog for the first time in a long time now. We know we’re going to have a big challenge next week. We’re playing a very fast, physical football team.”
Burlingame travels to Canton-Galva (9-0) next Friday in the second round of the playoffs, with the winner advancing to the state quarterfinals. The Bearcats have won in that round for three straight years.
J.T. Ohlson led Bennington with 288 total yards, including 158 rushing on 31 carries.
Junior Colton Hill had a solid game for Burlingame on defense, hurrying Ohlson several times while picking up a pair of sacks.
BURLINGAME 70, BENNINGTON 36
Bennington 14 8 14 0 — 36
Burlingame 20 20 22 8 — 70
Bennington – Allen 4 run (Allen run)
Burlingame – Greenwood 1 run (Run failed)
Bennington – Allen 57 kickoff return (Run failed)
Burlingame – Greenwood 9 run (Masters pass from Giffin)
Burlingame – Lewis 35 pass from Giffin (Pass failed)
Burlingame – Greenwood 2 run (Masters pass from Giffin)
Burlingame – Greenwood 15 pass from Giffin (Run failed)
Bennington – Allen 13 pass from Ohlson (Allen pass from Ohlson)
Burlingame – Greenwood 17 run (Pass failed)
Burlingame – Greenwood 51 run (Run failed)
Bennington – Ohlson 70 run (Allen run)
Burlingame – Thomas 11 pass from Giffin (Greenwood pass from Giffin)
Bennington – Ohlson 8 run (Run failed)
Burlingame – Thomas 56 kickoff return (Masters pass from Giffin)
Burlingame – Masters 16 pass from Giffin (Ledom run)
GAME IN FIGURES
FD 19 19
Rushes-Yds 41-206 33-256
Passing 12-16-0 11-16-1
Passing Yds 130 249
Fumbles-Lost 1-1 0-0
Penalties-Yds 4-48 9-53
Punts 4-27.7 1-38.0
RUSHING – Bennington: Ohlson 31-158, Wilton 4-28, Allen 6-20; Burlingame: Greenwood 13-159, Giffin 11-64, Thomas 5-28, Lewis 1-4, Young 2-1, Ledom 1-0.
PASSING – Bennington: Ohlson 12-16-0 130; Burlingame: Giffin 11-16-1 249.
RECEIVING – Bennington: Stanley 6-71, Allen 4-43, Gish 2-16; Burlingame: Lewis 4-146, Thomas 2-51, Masters 2-26, Greenwood 3-24.