MANCHESTER -- In a season of dynamic performances almost every week, the John Burroughs football team delivered one of its best efforts of the season Monday night in the Class 3 District 2 championship game against Soldan High of St. Louis.
The Bombers, who have been on a mission since last season to get back to the Edward Jones Dome for their third straight appearance in the state championship game, looked every bit like the best team in the state, with a 50-6 romp over Soldan.
"You can see it, these kids know what's at stake," Burroughs head coach and former NFL quarterback Gus Frerotte said. "They come and practice hard every day, and they refuse to let each other let down. And it kind of shows up when we play a game like this."
Star running back Ezekiel Elliott was at the forefront once again for the Bombers, posting 175 total yards and six touchdowns to lead the Burroughs effort.
Elliott, who now leads the entire St. Louis area with 41 scores this season, made his mark in nearly every facet of the game, registering four rushing touchdowns, 109 receiving yards and two more touchdowns, while also intercepting a pass and recovering a fumble on defense.
"That kid just doesn't stop," Frerotte said. "He got mad at me because I took him out of the game, but I told him, 'I have to take you out.' He didn't like that."
The Bomber senior played well into the fourth quarter, and certainly got his money's worth of action while he was in, catching a 47-yard touchdown pass on Burroughs' first possession, then setting up teammate Peter Schnuck for a 5-yard score on his club's next chance with the ball.
“We knew that they were going to try to load the box, so we decided that we were going to try to attack through the air,” said Elliott.. “It worked out pretty well. The first (touchdown) pass they weren’t expecting, and they had me on one-on-one coverage."
Burroughs' next three scores all came on Elliott runs of 4, 17, and 2 yards.
But the play of the night, came early in the third quarter, when Elliott leaked out of the backfield as a safety valve for quarterback Nick Duncan, and caught a short pass in the flat, and somehow weaved his way through the Soldan defense, for a scintillating 52-yard touchdown that effectively put the nail in the Tigers' coffin.
"He's just an exceptional player, we all know that," Frerotte said. "He makes unbelievable plays all the time. It's exciting to watch him get the ball in the open field like that. He's special."
The Burroughs defense also had a terrific night, holding the previously explosive Soldan offense to just one score.
The Tigers came in averaging 31.1 points a game, but were held to a season-low six points by the Bombers.
"Our defense is awesome," Elliott said. "Led by our middle linebacker Christian Bledsoe. He's the best. And I would say, he's the heart and soul of our team. But all those guys have played so well all year. They take pride in shutting people down."
Next on the slate for Burroughs is a state quarterfinal matchup with Park Hills Central. That game will be played in Park Hills on Saturday, with kickoff set for 1:30 p.m.
The winner of that contest would then play the winner of the Eldon (MO) vs. Monett (MO) quarterfinal game, which is also slated for Saturday, in the state semifinals in two weeks, with the winner of that matchup advancing to the Show-Me Bowl state championship game at the Dome on Nov. 23.
Score by Quarters ... 1 ... 2 ... 3 ... 4 -- Final
Soldan .................... 0 .... 0 ... 6 ... 0 -- 6
John Burroughs ..... 20 .. 17 . 7 ... 6 -- 50
JBS - Ezekiel Elliott 47 yd pass from Nick Duncan (kick failed) -- 11:10 ..... 0-7
JBS - Peter Schnuck 5 yd pass from Nick Duncan (Rushil Sheth kick) -- 4:36 ..... 0-13
JBS - Ezekiel Elliott 4 yd run (Rushil Sheth kick) -- :44 ........................ 0-20
JBS - Ezekiel Elliott 17 yd run (kick failed) -- 11:33 ........................ 0-26
JBS - Ezekiel Elliott 2 yd run (Nate Van Slyke pass from Nick Duncan) -- 1:13 ........................ 0-34
JBS - Rushil Sheth 25 yd field goal -- :07 ........................................ 0-37
Soldan - Nathaniel Thirdkill 41 yd pass from Steven Irving (pass failed) -- 7:58 ................... 6-37
JBS - Ezekiel Elliott 52 yd pass from Nick Duncan (Rushil Sheth kick) -- 7:35 ................... 6-44
JBS - Ezekiel Elliott 3 yd run (kick failed) -- 10:25 ............................. 6-50