SOUTHEAST GLENDALE — One yard may very well be the distance that separates Crescenta Valley High's football team from returning to the CIF playoffs.
Then again, a final yard not gained was simply the Falcons' final offensive play in a contest filled with lost chances that added up to one disastrous 21-14 Pacific League loss to visiting Pasadena on Friday night at Glendale High's Moyse Field.
"It's huge," said Falcons Coach Paul Schilling of the defeat and its magnitude, as it sends CV to 4-3 and 2-2 in league with its remaining three games against Arcadia, Burbank and Burroughs — seen by most as the top three teams in league. "We have to win two of the last three games to make the playoffs.
"We had to win this game. That was a big one."
Down by the final score, staring at fourth and 20 on the Pasadena 42, Falcons quarterback Paul Perugini couldn't find and open man and scrambled right, put his shoulder down and came up with a 19-yard gain that sealed the contest after two subsequent kneel downs for Pasadena (3-4, 2-2).
"As a whole, we moved the ball," said Schilling, whose team totaled 283 yards to Pasadena's 365. "We just couldn't get in the end zone."
One key part to the Falcons' puzzle on the night was an inability to capitalize on any momentum.
Falcons linebacker Chris Fierro had two fumble recoveries, but neither led to a Falcons score.
In contrast, Pasadena elongated drives all night long with big conversions.
"We let them convert too many big third downs," Schilling said.
On the game-winning drive, it was one huge fourth down that led to CV's downfall, as Pasadena converted on a fourth-and-three play from its own 33 with a 30-yard pass play and three plays later was in the end zone, leading to a 21-14 lead.
The drive came after a crucial CV drive began with a 46-yard pass play from Perugini to Mark Sereno, but went backwards after that with a penalty, a negative run and two incompletions. It was the perfect example of CV's inability to cash in on momentum as the defense had just stopped a long Pasadena drive in which the Bulldogs had converted on a roughing-the-punter call and a third-and-16 play only to see the Falcons hold strong on fourth and one at their own 19.
"It was the chronic situation, every time we'd make a big play, we'd go backwards," Schilling said.
Perugini scored on a three-yard sneak on the second half's first drive to tie the score at 14 as the Falcons marched down the field in seven plays after a 50-yard Kevin Fernandez kickoff return.
After a sluggish first half, it seemed that all was well for the CV offense, but its next drive ended on the Pasadena 19 with a fumble. A punt and a game-ending turnovers on downs came to be on its next two drives.
CV's woes began early when Perugini, who completed nine of 17 passes for 159 yards, was thrown for a disastrous 20-yard sack. On the ensuing, third-down play, Perugini quick-kicked for a touchback. The following play saw Pasadena running back Chris Ferguson take a pitch and race 80 yards untouched for a 7-0 lead with 4:03 left in the first quarter.
In the second quarter, the Falcons had phenomenal field position on the Bulldogs' 29, but a fumble on the first play of the drive squandered it and led to a 14-0 Pasadena lead.
Sereno, who had 16 carries for 79 yards and three catches for 71, scored with 35 seconds left in the first half to make it 14-7, but it was hardly a sign of things to come.
Said Schilling: "We're not very good right now."