SOUTH EL MONTE — Through the air or on the ground, AJ Pule could do no wrong.
The Hoover High senior quarterback needed to be at his best, as he tossed five touchdown passes and rushed for two scores to power the visiting Tornadoes to a 45-38 nonleague victory against Mountain View at South El Monte High on Friday night.
"I've been getting every play down and I've been thinking about having a big performance," said Pule, who completed 20 of 33 passes for 354 yards, including four touchdown passes to receiver Dymond McRae, who had seven catches for 131. "I was really focused on doing whatever I could to help our team get that first win."
Pule rescued Hoover (1-2) by tossing a touchdown pass and rushing for two more in the pivotal fourth quarter against a stunned Mountain View (1-2).
The Tornadoes saw the Vikings rally to take a 30-27 lead with 10:53 left in the contest, then Pule and Hoover recovered on their ensuing possession.
Pule fired a 40-yard strike to make it 33-30 just 23 seconds later.
Pule, who ran for 91 yards in nine carries, then scored on a one-yard run to extend Hoover's lead to 39-30 with 3:20 left and then concluded his standout performance by breaking a tackle for a 54-yard touchdown run a minute later to make it 45-30.
Mountain View closed out the scoring with 51 seconds left.
"I told AJ before the game that we were going to put the ball in his hands," Hoover Coach Chris Long said, "whether that meant throwing or running.
"He's our senior leader and what more can you ask? Mountain View was tough and scrappy and we scrapped, too."
Pule fired a 37-yard touchdown pass to McCrae to give the Tornadoes a 7-6 lead with 4:24 remaining in the opening quarter. After Hoover's Devaughn Williams, who also caught seven passes for 127 yards, recovered a fumble and returned it to the Mountain View 30, Pule tossed a four-yard scoring pass to McCrae to make it 14-6 with 1:28 left in the first quarter.
The Tornadoes made it 20-12 when Pule floated a 28-yard touchdown pass to McCrae on fourth and 16 with 8:44 left in the first half. Pule then connected with receiver Jesse Pina on a 15-yard scoring pass to extend the lead to 27-12 with a minute left in the first half.
Hoover got 10 tackles from linebacker Sergio Arenas and an interception from Wilfred Ong.