The march to a second CIF championship in six seasons is halfway done.
Backed by splendid performances on both sides of the ball and on special teams, the Crescenta Valley High football team inched a step closer to a title.
Top-seeded Crescenta Valley received a career-high four rushing touchdowns from Sebastian DeLeon to earn a 45-20 road win against defending champion Eisenhower on Friday in a CIF Southern Section Division X quarterfinal contest.
Crescenta Valley (12-0) will meet visiting Katella, which posted a 22-17 win against No. 4 Segerstrom, in a semifinal contest Friday at Glendale High’s Moyse Field. Crescenta Valley, which won the Pacific League title, posted its fourth season with at least 12 victories in program history.
“It’s just an amazing win and an amazing feeling to come down here and get a win,” Crescenta Valley first-year coach Hudson Gossard said. “It’s great when you see the players go out there and contribute in different ways.
“It’s exciting to go back to the semifinals and we just want to keep it rolling and win CIF again.”
Eisenhower (7-5) took a 7-0 lead on the first possession of the game before Crescenta Valley, which won the Southeast Division crown in 2014, stormed back and took charge the remainder of the game.
The Eagles grabbed a 7-0 lead on a 13-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Cesar Ayala to Victor Rubio with 7:19 left in the first quarter.
Then the Falcons got on track, tying the game on a six-yard run by Vincent Parrot with 35 seconds to go in the first quarter.
DeLeon went to work on the ground in the second half.
DeLeon, who finished with 98 yards rushing in 16 carries, scored on a seven-yard touchdown run to make it 14-7 Crescenta Valley with 7:16 left in the second quarter.
Special teams paved the way for the Falcons later in the second quarter. PJ Weinmann blocked a punt that was recovered by teammate Logan Tourville at the Eisenhower 10-yard line.
Crescenta Valley took advantage, receiving a one-yard touchdown run from DeLeon to extend the lead to 21-7 with three minutes left in the first half.
DeLeon scored on a one-yard touchdown run on the opening possession of the second half to give the Falcons a 28-7 cushion with 9:30 to play in the third quarter.
“I was able to find the holes and I got plenty of good blocks from the big boys on the line,” DeLeon said. “We did that all night by just putting our shoulders down and getting yardage and chewing up the clock. It was a great all-around effort by our team tonight.”
A 23-yard field goal by Anthony Sharlakian of Crescenta Valley extended the lead to 31-7 with 1:13 to go in the third quarter.
Eisenhower, which split the San Andreas League title with Jurupa Hills and San Gorgonio, received a 49-yard touchdown pass from Ayala to Dayvon Benton on the final play of the third quarter to close to within 31-14.
David Baek caught a 35-yard touchdown pass from Brendan Pehar, who filled in for injured starting quarterback Chase Center for the third straight game, to make it 38-14 with 9:46 left in the fourth quarter.
DeLeon capped his big effort with an 11-yard run to make it 45-14 with 3:53 remaining.
The Eagles closed out the scoring on a 17-yard run by Rubio with 2:55 to play.
Crescenta Valley running back Maximus Grant finished with 94 yards rushing in 10 carries and teammate James Cho had 76 yards in 11 carries.
Pehar completed four of nine passes for 62 yards.
Ayala completed 17 of 30 passes for 193 yards.
The Falcons limited the Eagles to 10 yards rushing.