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J.I. Burton uses balanced attack to power past Eastside

Kevin Mays • Oct 5, 2019 at 1:15 AM

NORTON — J.I. Burton has a lot of offensive weapons on its football team.

On Friday night, the Raiders unloaded their full arsenal on the way to a 48-6 win over Eastside at Lawson-Fitchko Stadium.

After a sluggish start in the first quarter, Burton (3-2, 2-0 Cumberland District) exploded, scoring on its final four possessions behind a balance of rushing and quick-attack passing.

Throw in an interception return for a touchdown by Najee Steele, and the Raiders enjoyed a 35-0 halftime advantage over a stunned Spartans squad.

GOING AIRBORNE

Eastside (1-4, 0-1) did a good job of shutting down the Raiders’ running game up the middle in the first quarter, so Burton coach Jacob Caudill opened up the playbook and turned quarterback Jaymen Buchanan loose.

“Once we figured out they were stacking the box on us because they knew Mikey Culbertson and Najee Steele were going to be carrying the load, we opened it up some,” Caudill noted. “We were really proud of our quarterback. Jaymen Buchanan really stepped up and played a really good game.”

View the photo gallery from the game

Culbertson scored the game’s first points with his 7-yard touchdown run in the final seconds of the opening quarter. The next three Burton touchdowns emerged from the passing game.

Just 11 seconds after Culbertson scored, Steele gave the Raiders another TD when he intercepted a pass and returned it 43 yards to the end zone.

Buchanan, who finished 9-of-16 passing for 185 yards, two touchdowns and one interception, then went to work through the air. The sophomore connected with freshman Tre Keys for a 30-yard TD and then threw a 33-yard scoring strike to Tyrell Ingram on back-to-back possessions, putting Burton ahead 27-0 with 3:23 left in the first half.

“Our line really stepped it up once we started getting into the game, and our conditioning helped us get a pretty good lead,” Buchanan said.

“We got very good skill players that I can get the ball to that I can trust.”

After holding Eastside to a three-and-out on the next drive, the Raiders added a TD before the end of the half. Cannan Stacy-Lawson capped a six-play, 63-yard drive with a 1-yard scoring run with 24 seconds left in the second quarter.

Eastside got on the scoreboard on its first drive of the second half. The Spartans moved the ball 74 yards and scored on a 4-yard touchdown pass from Will Stansberry to Grayson Whited.

Burton answered a few minutes later with a 62-yard sprint to the end zone by Esau Teasley.

It was that kind of night for the Spartans.

“I thought we had a good game plan coming in,” said Eastside coach Mike Rhodes. “We had a couple of turnovers in the first half and a couple of penalties and just shot ourselves in the foot. That’s a good ball team.

“We kind of got down a little bit, and as soon as we put our head down they made a play.”

Culbertson capped the scoring with a 15-yard touchdown run.

The senior led a balanced ground game with 79 yards and two touchdowns on 11 carries. Teasley had 75 yards and a touchdown on just six carries.

“Our conditioning kicked in and it made a difference,” Culbertson said of the big win. “The first two or three drives, they three-and-outed us. But they were wearing down and I think our conditioning made a big difference.

“We’ve got a lot of speed with Esau and Najee, and the line does a great job of blocking.”

Stansberry completed 17 of 36 passes for 97 yards with one TD and two picks. Nick Raymond led the Spartans on the ground with 52 yards on nine carries.

UP NEXT

Eastside stays inside the Cumberland next Friday when the Spartans host Rye Cove.

Burton is at home to face nondistrict foe Honaker in the Raiders’ homecoming contest.

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