It was not the flashy, high-flying offensive performance the Raiders were accustomed to showing during their eight-win regular season. It was not even 3 yards and a cloud of dust. Instead, it was more like 3 yards and a splash in the mud for Burton, which scored 22 second-half points to beat Holston 30-6 on a sloppy field at Lawson-Fitchko Stadium.
“It’s a shame that this magnitude of a game had to be played in these types of conditions, but there wasn’t anything we could do,” said Burton coach Jim Adams. “We checked on playing at (Virginia-Wise) but they had a full day of events and it just wasn’t possible. It is what it is. Both teams had to play on it.”
Burton (9-2) advanced to the Region 1D semifinals to play Patrick Henry (10-1).
WINNING THE TURNOVER WAR
Burton took advantage of three turnovers by Holston (6-5) and didn’t give away the ball on a turnover once.
“When you get into this time of year, the most important thing is turnovers,” Adams said. “There’s no cupcakes in the playoffs. Everybody is capable of beating you. We stressed all week long not to turn the ball over.
“Turnovers were the difference in the ball game.”
RUNNING THROUGH THE MUD
The muddy field conditions forced Burton to change its game plan, Adams said.
“We knew we were going to have to move the ball on the ground,” he said. “We prefer to be a 50-50 team (with pass and run). But in these conditions that wasn’t an option. So we knew that coming in.”
Mikey Culbertson rushed for 136 yards, including a 95-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.
“We’ve still got a way to go in the running game, but when we had to have it today, we had it,” Adams continued. “We kind of put the load on Mikey’s back and he stepped up and did a really good job.”
Culbertson’s score came with 3:15 left to play after Burton’s defense stopped a Holston scoring threat at the Raiders’ 5.
Burton held an 8-0 halftime lead after scoring on an 8-yard touchdown run by Najee Steele.
Less than two minutes into the third quarter, Burton went ahead 16-0 when quarterback Houston Thacker connected with Derrick Allen for a 22-yard touchdown.
Despite muddy conditions, Thacker managed to complete 10 of 21 passes for 118 yards and the TD.
Holston quarterback Leo Ezzell also threw for a touchdown, connecting with Ethan Guerrero on a 72-yard score to cut the Burton lead to 16-6 with 4:34 to play in the third.
The touchdown was the only one of the game for Holston.
Burton answered the score with a 4-yard run from Thacker with 10:06 left in the contest and the nearly length-of-the-field run by Culbertson.