GLENDALE – There was no lack of motivation or storyline for the Crescenta Valley High football team when it hosted Golden Valley.
Having lost two straight times to the Grizzlies, the Falcons took on the extra incentive of being the fourth-ranked team in CIF Southern Section Division VI welcoming the No. 2 squad.
"As a team, we prepared so hard for this," Falcons running back Joe Suh said. "You know how much it hurts to lose two years in a row.
"That was a big motivation factor."
Said Falcons Coach Paul Schilling: "I think the biggest thing is being in the same division. … Huge matchup."
Suh and the Falcons got off to a fast start on Friday night at Glendale High's Moyse Field and then staved off a Grizzlies' rally to prevail, 26-19.
"It feels good to get this win," Suh said.
Suh rushed 23 times for 105 yards and two touchdowns, both of them in the first half, and also caught two passes for 18 yards, including a 15-yard first-half touchdown pass from quarterback Cole Doyle. Doyle, who completed eight of 16 passes for 98 yards, carried the ball 18 times for 72 yards, including the Falcons' only second-half score.
Crescenta Valley (2-0) looked to have a blowout brewing when Doyle scored to give it a 26-7 lead midway through the third stanza.
Golden Valley (2-1) mounted a comeback, though, led in large part by DeGabriel Floyd. The junior had four carries for 97 yards, including a 68-yard second-half touchdown run, and four catches for 114 yards, with touchdown catches of 19 and 79 yards, the latter in the second half.
But the Falcons' defense held on the final Grizzlies' possession, spurred on by a huge Alex Derpetrossian sack, followed by a batted pass from Brian Erickson and a final incompletion from Golden Valley.
Crescenta Valley took over and big first-down runs by Suh and Doyle sealed the game.
It was the fourth meeting for the teams and the series is split 2-2, but Crescenta Valley was stinging following two straight losses.
Crescenta Valley, for all intents and purposes, should have turned the game into a blowout as it had five takeaways (a fumble recovery by Chase Center, interceptions by Grady Schilling, Tyler Lobianco, Angel Ochoa and Jaedin Springfield), forced two turnovers on downs by Golden Valley after botched snaps on punts and Schilling recovered an ill-timed Grizzlies onside kick in the first half.
But the game still came down to the end as the Falcons' offense sputtered and Floyd was a game-breaker.
Suh and the Falcons scored on each of their first two possessions, beginning with a 15-yard touchdown catch off a screen from Doyle and then with a one-yard run for a 13-0 lead with just more than two minutes to go in the first quarter.
Floyd, one of four Grizzlies to line up at quarterback, caught a 19-yard fade to cut the score to 13-7 in the second quarter before CV saved momentum with a five-yard touchdown run by Suh with 22 seconds left in the stanza.
A Doyle one-yard keeper began the second-half scoring in the third quarter before Floyd's histrionics — a 79-yard TD catch and a 68-yard TD run on consecutive drives — had the Grizzlies flirting with a comeback before the Falcons' defense salted it away.