Burlingame protects Paw vs. San Mateo

BURLINGAME — The 91st rendition of the Little Big Game was up for grabs midway through the second quarter.

On the next snap after San Mateo defensive lineman Luke Fanguna recovered a fumble at the 2-yard line, quarterback Luke Bergstrom crossed the goal line to pull even.

Burlingame, which hasn’t felt defeat in this rivalry since 2009, didn’t panic and methodically took command Saturday on its home field to pull off the 38-7 victory.

“I think the Little Big Game is just the spirit of two schools that have been rivals for such a long time,” Burlingame sophomore Lucas Meredith said. “I feel like it’s just school spirit and who really wants it more. It’s all about The Paw.”

Meredith pounded his way for 118 yards on 21 carries and walked in for a 2-yard touchdown with 31 seconds left until halftime to put the Panthers ahead 21-7 at intermission.

“Once we got to 21-7 it kind of gave us a little breathing room, a little sense of security,” Burlingame coach John Philipopoulos said. “Not too much, because San Mateo had a great game plan and they really wanted to shorten the game.”

Neither team scored in the first quarter, with San Mateo (3-7, 2-3 PAL Ocean) punting after an 11-play drive that ate up nearly 8 minutes off the clock.

“It’s a rivalry game, so you can kind of throw some stuff out the window, but all that we wanted to do was fight,” San Mateo coach Jeff Scheller said. “And that first quarter we did a really good job offensive and defensively to stay in the game, it’s just that we can’t play two opponents. Unfortunately, we shot ourselves in the foot and so it stopped us from gaining momentum and we can’t give a good team like that opportunities.”

The Panthers (8-2, 5-0) came determined to claim an outright league title and solidify its footing in the Central Coast Section playoffs.

“This game had some pretty big significance for us outside of the rivalry and the stuff with the community and the school,” Philpopoulos said.

Burlingame quarterback Jordan Malashus barely had any missteps, going 10 of 12 for 127 yards with a 16-yard touchdown to Devon Malashus to go up 14-7 with 2:45 left in the second quarter, then a 12-yard touchdown pass to Yousef Benchohar to cap the scoring with 7:17 to go in the game.

He took the Panthers on a 12-play, 75-yard drive that extended into the second quarter and culminated on a 3-yard keeper on fourth down.

After halftime, Burlingame began to pull away with a 27-yard field goal by Taylor Kaufman and a 13-yard TD run by Devon Malashus.

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