Santa Fe Trail responds late, pulls out 36-28 win at Burlington

Chargers bounce back after costly turnover, show off effective passing game

Santa Fe Trail’s Will Herren carried the ball 23 times for 139 yards and three TDs against Burlington on Friday. (Submitted)

BURLINGTON — Santa Fe Trail made a living off Burlington turnovers in Friday night’s Pioneer League clash, recovering four Wildcat fumbles — three in the first quarter alone.


Just as importantly, however, the Chargers didn’t let their one costly miscue turn into the death of them.

After a Burlington interception led to a game-tying touchdown early in the fourth quarter, Santa Fe Trail promptly answered with a 67-yard touchdown march to pull out a 36-28 road win that gives the Chargers leg up on repeating as league champions.

“We talked with them in the locker room right before the game that when you play in a game like this, it’s going to be close and there’s going to be adversity,” Santa Fe Trail coach Jayson Duncan said. “You can fold, or you can continue to play. When that happened, we said, ‘There’s our adversity. Let’s go. Let’s stay with it.’”

Up 28-20 going into the fourth quarter, Santa Fe Trail came up with a big stop to start the period, holding Burlington on fourth down at the Charger 21. But the excitement of the defensive stand quickly disappeared as on third down at the Charger 19, Trail quarterback Andrew Berckefeldt was pressured as he threw and his fluttering screen pass was picked off at the 13 by Wildcat linebacker Parker Meats, who returned it to the Charger 5.

Connor Jeffers, who victimized the Charger defense all night, scored on the next play and then cashed in the two-point conversion to pull Burlington even with 7:51 left.

Instead of getting rattled, Trail showed the poise its gained during its recent run of success. Berckefeldt came right back and hit Angel Esparza on a big 30-yard pass on third-and-12 and the Chargers methodically drove it from there with Will Herren busting across from the 2-yard line for the go-ahead touchdown with 2:42 left in the game.

“We’ve played in a lot of good games the last few years and that gives you a chance to have those kind of situations,” Duncan said. “We responded perfectly.”

Burlington had a final possession to try and answer, but after a 22-yard run by Jeffers got the ball to Trail’s 37, the Wildcats turned it over on downs and Trail ran out the final minute.

Known more for its power running game, Trail certainly did its share of damage on the ground. Herren finished with 139 yards and three touchdowns, also scoring on runs of 40 and 2 in the first half, and the Chargers had 243 as a team.

But Berckefeldt showed a new wrinkle for the Charger offense, completing 8 of 15 passes for 159 yards and two scores, hitting Esparza for touchdowns of 14 and 40 yards. Esparza had 145 yards receiving.

“We knew he could really throw it and we’ve got a guy who can catch it,” Duncan said. “They were really blitzing us hard all night, sending eight or nine guys. We just took what they were giving us and made some nice plays in the passing game.”

Trail built a 22-6 lead in the first half largely because Burlington couldn’t hang onto the ball. The Wildcats fumbled away three of their first four possessions and the turnovers proved to be huge as Trail had all kinds of trouble corralling Jeffers.

The senior quarterback ran for 259 yards and four touchdowns.

“Four turnovers in a game where we came within a score,” Burlington coach John Petrie said. “Our kids never quit and kept coming back over and over again. That’s what we’ve been preaching and there was no shame in this one. It was a hard-fought battle.”

Santa Fe Trail (2-0, 2-0) … 8 … 14 … 6 … 8 … — … 36

Burlington (1-1, 1-1) … 0 … 12 … 8 … 8 … — … 28

SFT — Herren 40 run (Herren run)

SFT — Esparza 14 pass from Berckefeldt (Herren run)

Bur — Jeffers 29 run (run failed)

SFT — Herren 2 run (run failed)

Bur — Jeffers 1 run (pass failed)

Bur — Jeffers 1 run (Jeffers run)

SFT — Esparza 40 pass from Berckefeldt (run failed)

Bur — Jeffers 5 run (Jeffers run)

SFT — Herren 2 run (Sheets pass from Berckefeldt)


… SFT … Burl

First downs … 16 … 18

Rushes-yards … 48-243 … 47-321

Passing … 159 … 31

Comp-Att-Int … 8-15-2 … 1-5-0

Punts … 3-22.3 … 1-30.0

Fumbles-Lost … 1-0 … 6-4

Penalties-Yards … 2-20 … 4-36


RUSHING — Santa Fe Trail: Herren 23-139, Greenfield 8-28, Berckefeldt 11-minus 15, Sheets 6-91. Burlington: Jeffers 28-259, Whitworth 9-38, Jasper 4-6, Johnson, 2-18, Nordstedt 2-12, Team 2-minus 12.

PASSING — Santa Fe Trail: Berckefeldt 8-15-2, 159 yards. Burlington: Jeffers 1-4-0, 31 yards; Nordstedt 0-1-0, 0.

RECEIVING — Santa Fe Trail: Esparza 6-145, Dunnaway 1-7, Tomlinson 1-7. Burlington: Fiedler 1-31.



Olathe West takes control in the second half to drop Topeka West, 68-36

OLATHE — Topeka West led at the end of the first quarter Wednesday night and the Chargers were within four points at... Read more