Amier Burdine, Reading High beat Muhlenberg in high school football

·5 min read

Sep. 3—The postgame scene was reminiscent of a team celebrating a championship, not one walking off the field victorious in Week 2 of the high school football season.

There was a trophy being carried around to show off to the fans. There was a team picture. And there were plenty of smiles.

The joy exhibited by Reading High's players was understandable Friday night following a 33-20 win over Muhlenberg in a non-league game at Laureldale.

The Red Knights (1-1), led by quarterback Amier Burdine, earned the first win for coach Troy Godient and claimed the Battle of the Border Trophy against the rival Muhls (1-1).

"This win means everything for this program," Burdine said. "Coach Troy's first win, young guys stepping up. It just is great to have memories like this with me being a senior."

Burdine created plenty of pleasant memories for himself and his teammates Friday. He ran for 137 yards — including a spectacular, game-altering 15-yard run early in the fourth quarter — and two touchdowns on 20 carries and completed 6-of-12 passes for 55 yards and a touchdown.

"He's a kid that when things get bad, he makes them good," said Godient, a Reading High grad. "He can correct a lot of things with his skillset. I mean, he's just a positive kid. No matter what, he's going to compete. He's going to give you everything he's got. Just super proud of his growth."

That skillset was needed time and again on a night when both teams struggled with penalties and other mistakes.

Reading, which lost 31-12 to Central Dauphin East in its opener, committed 14 penalties and fumbled three times, losing one. Muhlenberg committed 12 penalties and had four turnovers.

"We had penalties," said Muhlenberg coach John Lorchak, whose young team beat Octorara 25-13 in Week 1. "We had some mental breakdowns, and we gave them opportunities because of those breakdowns. And in a game like this where it's gonna come down to one or two plays, those mental breakdowns end up hurting."

The Muhls turned it over at their 42 on the game's first play from scrimmage on a fumbled snap.

They looked as if they might escape unscathed as Reading committed three penalties on the drive and faced a fourth-and-25 from the Muhlenberg 40.

But Burdine connected with Ruben Rodriguez on a pass that was deflected downfield for a 25-yard completion and a first down at the 15. Three plays later, Burdine ran in from the 2 to make it 6-0.

Muhlenberg turned it over again on an interception by Drew Fidler on its second possession, but Reading gave it right back two plays later on a fumble that Michael Miller returned 37 yards to the Red Knights' 18.

On fourth-and-short, Jermickey Gumby capped the drive with an 8-yard run to tie it with 3:39 left in the first quarter.

Cameron Small's 1-yard run, followed by Burdine's two-point conversion run, gave Reading a 14-6.lead at halftime.

The Red Knights expanded that lead to 21-6 on their second possession of the second half on a 4-yard run by Small.

Muhlenberg then went on its best drive of the night, going 80 yards in 12 plays. Gio Cavanna had a 32-yard run and a 22-yard reception on the drive, which ended with his 8-yard run to make it 21-12.

The Muhls seemed poised to get the ball back with a chance to tie it when they forced the Red Knights into a third-and-12 at the Muhlenberg 26.

That's when Burdine turned in the play of the night.

It only goes down as a 15-yard run, but Burdine must have run 50 yards as he zigged, zagged and juked his way to the Muhls' 11.

"It was an option," he said. "Whenever I see the end crash down I pull it. I know I have to be the one to make plays for this team for us to be successful and I accept that role. And I'm gonna keep working to do it."

On third-and-8 from the 9, Burdine connected with Rodriguez on a 9-yard TD to make it 27-12 with 8:08 left.

It wasn't over yet, however. Miller returned the ensuing kickoff 77 yards for a touchdown, and Gumby's successful two-point conversion run cut it to 27-20 with 7:57 left.

"When they had that kick return, we knew we had to come back, manage the clock and get back on the scoreboard," Burdine said. "We just gotta keep moving down the field to win the game."

The Red Knights did just that. The 61-yard drive took more than seven minutes off the clock, Burdine finishing it on a 2-yard run with 41.3 seconds left.

"Our kids are extremely upset about what went down," Lorchak said, "and what we're going to have to do is go through and say, 'OK, this is what we did well, this is where we need to improve.' That was just one step on the ladder to try to get this program to where we come into another game where we eliminate some mistakes."

On the other side, Reading High's players were able to celebrate a win that Godinet hopes is just first of many as he tries to rebuild a program that was successful during his playing days in the early 2000s.

"This win is important for our kids," Godinet said. "They worked so hard this summer. They play for each other. They love each other. I mean, you saw when he had to battle adversity a little bit late in the third quarter. They rallied around each other and kept their heads up."