The last time quarterback Kevin Burke (Mount Union/Westlake, Ohio) played at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium, he led Lakewood St. Edward High School to a Division I Ohio state title over future Ohio State star quarterback Braxton Miller.
Fast forward almost five years, and now he’s leading the United States to wins.
The three-time Associated Press Little America selection was stellar Thursday in a 30-6 win over Mexico.
Playing in the shadows of where he went to college, Burke (photo below) was near perfect as USA stayed undefeated in World Championship competition in a quest to win the title for the third time in a row.
“It was pretty nostalgic,” Burke said. “Five years ago, I won a state title here. To come back with some of the same fans and my parents and family, it was great. It just felt good to get out there and play.”
Despite the lopsided score, Mexico didn’t exactly roll over and let the Americans walk all over it.
In fact, the game was close at halftime as a 37-yard field goal by Jose Maltos made it 10-3 heading into intermission and left many in the stands looking for a pack of Rolaids to calm the stomach.
But the United States answered with two third-quarter touchdowns to give the squad a little bit of breathing room.
USA coach Dan Hawkins;
“The second half to me is, ‘Did you come to win?’ That sets the tone a lot for the second half. I was really proud of the way the guys responded. We were able to get some things going.”
USA looked like it was going to score right out of the gate in the third quarter, but team MVP Burke (18-of-25, 135 yards) threw an interception in the end zone.
It was a short-lived break for Mexico, as Robert Virgil (University of Sioux Falls/Elk Grove, Calif.) intercepted Roberto Vega and returned it to the 19.
Four plays later, running back Sadale Foster (Texas Tech/Lubbock, Texas) went in from 5 yards out. On the next possession, running back Aaron Wimberly (Iowa State/Duluth, Minn.) scored from a yard out and a once close game was decidedly in favor of the Americans.
Quarterback Dylan Favre (Tennessee-Martin/Kiln, Miss.), the nephew of future Pro Football Hall of Famer Brett Favre, ended the scoring for USA with a touchdown pass to Kevin Cummings (Oregon State/Los Angeles) in the fourth.
Cummings finished with 64 yards receiving on four catches. Trent Steelman (Army, Bowling Green, Ky.) had 73 yards on five catches and Luc Meacham (Mount Union/Toledo, Ohio) registered 37 yards on four catches and added a highlight-reel touchdown.
Mexico coach Raul Rivera Sanchez;
“Today wasn’t a good day for us. It wasn’t executed as we planned. We will analyze what happened and start thinking (Friday) morning about Japan.”
But it was a defense that allowed minus-6 yards rushing and sacked Mexico eight times – defensive end Tevin Davis (Valdosta State/Forsythe, Ga.) led the way with 2½ sacks and 4 tackles – that really put an end to any type of Mexican comeback.
“We knew a little bit just from going against those guys in practice that they’re pretty tough. We haven’t gone live at all, but we know they’re pretty talented, pretty strong. You have a couple guys that have been in NFL Camps.
It all starts up front, I think. You have to get off blocks and make plays. When your defense plays tough up front like that, it’s going to be tough to run the ball and anytime the quarterback has to run around back there, if he makes plays, you tip your hat to him. But you try not to let him get comfortable and I think our guys did a great job up there.”
Photos: USA Football/Ed Hall Jr.