Burke leads Knights to improbable comeback

<b>LEXINGTON, KY</b> Perhaps the top quarterback in the state, Lexington Catholic standout Justin Burke led the Knights to an improbable comeback victory Saturday night against Boyle County in the Saint Joseph HealthCare Bluegrass Bowl.

Lexington Catholic's Justin Burke was the Comeback Kid Saturday night.

Not just because he led his team to a 43-42 victory over perennial AA power Boyle County after trailing 35-14 midway through the third quarter but also because he had to overcome some personal demons.

After taking a jarring hit from Boyle County standout Brandon Smith on the game's first series that forced a fumble, the Knight's junior quarterback was clearly rattled. Though Burke remained in the game, he appeared but a shell of the player who threw for 2,692 yards and 34 touchdowns, while completing 64-percent of passes last season.

On the Knights next three possessions, Burke, who has a scholarship from the University of Louisville, completed three passes...each to a Boyle County defenders. That's right. The talented junior who threw just four interceptions in 2003, already had throw three midway through the second quarter.

"I think I put him in some bad situations early," Lexington Catholic head coach Bob Sphire admitted following the game. "But once I turned him loose and let him play his game he absolutely let the game on fire."


Burke was named the game's MVP
after throwing for 284 yards
Trailing 14-0 in the first half, Burke proved his worth on the Knights first scoring drive.

"He's just such a complete quarterback because he has the ability to run the football, too," Sphire continued. "When we were down 14-0, he called every play on our first scoring drive. We went no huddle and I put [the playing calling] on him. So that's what kind of kid he is."

But the Rebels didn't relent, taking a commanding 35-14 lead midway through the third quarter. That's when Burke took total control of the game, hurting Boyle County with his legs and his arm. When Boyle County's Adam Dickerson missed a potential game-winning 32-yard field goal with 20 seconds remaining, Burke, who threw for 284 yards and 2 touchdowns, and rushed for 93 yards and three more scores on the ground, had led his team to a remarkable second half comeback victory.

"We had some jitters early and we just had to overcome that," Burke said. "They were dropping off on our receivers in the second half and trying to take that away so Coach Sphire told me that the running lanes were open and that's what we did."

"The first half was my fault," Burke continued. "We started to run the ball better in the second half and after that we just took it to the house. This was a great win and hopefully it can propel us this season."

Burke, who attended the University of Louisville passing camp earlier this summer, declined comment on his recruitment following the emotional game, choosing to focus instead on his team's play this season. Still, don't be surprised if a Bluegrass battle develops between rivals Louisville and Kentucky for his services in the near future.

"I have a lot of time to that," Burke said of his recruitment. "I'm just kind of going with flow a little bit. I'm obviously doing a little traveling and getting my name out but that's for the summer. Right now, it's about Lexington Catholic football and I'll leave the recruiting for the summer."

One player in attendance who was impressed with Burke's performance was none other than Central High standout defensive tackle James McKinney. McKinney, who's cousin Brandon Logan registered 8 tackles for the Knights, said Burke really left an impression with his performance last night.

"He's really a great player," McKinney said following the game. "He can beat team's with his running and passing and he's going to be a starter for somebody at the next level."


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