Ground game leads Hart football to victory over Burbank

Hart's Taden Littleford (6) goes in for Hart's second touchdown in the second quarter against Burbank High at College of the Canyons on Friday, September 13, 2019. Dan Watson/The Signal
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The atmosphere was ripe for some entertaining football entering Friday’s night preleague football matchup as Hart tried to capture that elusive first win against Burbank at College of the Canyons.

Forcing a turnover and a blocked field goal in the first half, the Indians capitalized on the Bulldogs mistakes to take an early lead into halftime and continued the scoring in the second half as the Indians scored four rushing touchdowns to win 31-13.

“You can never say that we played a perfect game, we are always going to have mistakes and things that we have to look at in film,” said Hart quarterback Zach Johnson. “I think we handled ourselves really well and stayed in our own heads. Again, you are always going to make mistakes, but it’s always good to get that first win out of the way.”

Hart’s Jordan Sioussat (56) assists as quarterback Zach Johnson (16) evade Burbank’s Lucas Sheppe (25) in the second quarter at College of the Canyons on Friday, September 13, 2019. Dan Watson/The Signal

On the game’s first drive, Burbank used a combination of running plays by Isaac Glover, and quick passes by Aram Araradian to receiver Brandon Pena and drove down the field. The drive was capped by a five-yard reception by Pena setting up a 23-yard field goal.

Getting off the line, multiple Indians players got into the backfield disrupting the field goal with Ryan Tomaszewski ultimately scooping up the ball on Hart’s own 18-yard line as the Indians took over.

Running back Taden Littleford pounded the Bulldogs defense time and time again and it was clear that he was a focal point of the Hart offense. On the Indians’ second drive from scrimmage, he executed runs of 16 yards, seven, six and eight yards until finally punching the ball in from three yards out for the game’s first touchdown.

After Hart (1-2 overall) turned the ball over on downs on the following drive, Burbank took over deep in its territory. On the second play of the drive Araradian fumbled a ball and Max Bjorkman recovered it on the Bulldogs’ 13-yard line setting up Littleford’s second rushing touchdown from 12 yards out.

The Bulldogs answered with a 45-plus touchdown pass and catch by Araradian to Ben Burnham to get within one score.

Just before the end of the half, Hart kicker Cruz Lopez nailed a 23-yard field goal to go ahead 17-7 at the half.

The scoring continued at the turn of the half as Johnson drove the team down the field for a 58-yard touchdown drive capped by a 26-yard quarterback keeper where Johnson ran in untouched.

Hart defensemen Dylan Vradenburg (12) and Leighton McCarthy (10) bring down Isaac Glover (1) of Burbank behind the line of scrimmage in the second quarter at College of the Canyons on Friday, September 13, 2019. Dan Watson/The Signal

Trying to get anything going, the Bulldogs (1-3) and Araradian tried to escape the clutches of Dylan Vradenburg and Hadi Maaz forcing passes to his receivers, but they just couldn’t separate themselves from the tough coverage provided by the Indians’ secondary.

Just under three minutes left in the game, Littleford went down with an injury and was taken out for a play, but re-entered to score his third rushing touchdown of the evening. 

“We fixed a lot of little mistakes and I just followed my line,” Littleford said.

Bjorkman intercepted a Burbank pass late in the game and the Indians took a knee and sealed that elusive first win of the year.

Hart faces St. Bonaventure at Ventura College on Friday at 7 p.m.

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