BURLINGTON — The Burlington High football team hosted Lexington in the 47th annual Thanksgiving Day game at Varsity Field on Thursday morning and what plagued the Devils in the regular season, reared its ugly head again.
After a strong first half, the Devils defense had no answers for Lexington speedster Mason Hatfield and the Minutemen rode his four total touchdowns to a 49-20 victory, leaving both teams with 3-8 records for the season.
“Sometimes our game plan is to get him the ball and let Mason be Mason,” said first year Lexington coach Mike Hill of Hatfield. “He even had some big runs taken back today but he is just a player that can change the game.”
The Burlington defense forced a three and out on the first Lexington offensive possession of the game before the Devils offense quickly went to work.
On Burlington’s first offensive play from scrimmage, senior quarterback Khyle Pena connected with Shawn Pinkham streaking down the middle of the field for a 56-yard touchdown pass and a 7-0 lead after Liam Brown’s extra point.
Lexington responded with an eight play, 51-yard drive highlighted by a 30-yard reception from Hatfield. Hatfield finished off the drive with a one-yard plunge into the end zone and the game was tied at seven after Lucas Patocs Bisazza connected on one of his seven extra points on the day.
After the teams traded three and outs, Lexington got back into the end zone thanks to a long scoring play.
Facing third and four from their own 18-yard line, quarterback Charles Mabardy found Ethan Xi on a screen pass and Xi wiggled his way through defenders going 82 yards for the score and a 14-7 lead.
Burlington drew even late in the half after a Pena pass to Sammy Doherty for 21 yards put the Devils into the red zone. Pena finished off the drive with a two-yard run and the game was tied at 14.
A late second quarter touchdown by John Hurley was called back due to a holding call and the teams went into the intermission even.
On the first Lexington possession of the second half, the Devils looked to forge ahead when Matt Pinkham intercepted Mason Hatfield’s attempt and went 55 yards for an apparent score, but it was called back due to a penalty.
Later in the drive, Hatfield scampered in from eight yards out and Lexington led, 21-14.
Burlington went three and out and Lexington quickly responded with Hatfield going to the air, connecting with Justin Siri for a six-yard touchdown pass to stretch the lead to 14.
The offense sputtered for Burlington, unable to convert a fourth and nine from the Lexington 22-yard line before Hatfield delivered the back-breaking score.
Hatfield busted off a 65-yard touchdown run eluding several defenders along the way with nine seconds left in the third quarter to give Lexington a 35-14 lead.
Midway through the fourth quarter, Hatfield added another rushing touchdown, this one from 38 yards out, his third rushing touchdown of the day.
After a good kickoff return from Shawn Pinkham and a Lexington personal foul, Burlington added a late score with Pena blasting in from a yard out.
However, Lexington would have the final say in this one when Kevin Xiong went down the sideline for a 49-yard run to the end zone for the game’s final score.
“The touchdowns getting called back really killed us today,” said Burlington coach Dan MacKay. “I thought that when we went down two scores, we had some guys who didn’t execute the way we needed to on defense.”
Burlington honored seniors Khyle Pena, Chris Jones, John Hurley, George Haddad, Josh MacLeod, and Jake McCauley before the game and MacKay shared a moment with that group after the game.
“I just told them how proud of them I was for them sticking with it,” said MacKay of his six seniors. “I just thanked them for playing hard. They played hard the whole game.”