SOUTHEAST GLENDALE — The clash of the red and black and the purple and white on Moyse Field is usually a sight reserved for a November evening.
On Thursday night at Moyse, the Glendale High and Hoover football teams broke with tradition and opened the season against each other for the first time in the history of the long-standing rivalry.
With no "Victory Bell" at stake and no homecoming festivities as a backdrop, the atmosphere was more subdued in the stands, but hardly so on the field, where a Nitros squad that had to wait until November to get its first win of last season opened 2011 with a 20-6 win over their archrival.
"It feels great [to start with a win], it's just a totally different start from how we started last year," said Alex Yoon, the Nitros quarterback for last year' season-ending 54-19 win over Hoover, who rushed for 164 yards and a touchdown in Thursday's win as a running back. "Coming off with a win on Week One is pretty good. …There was a lot on the line, it was just for respect."
Glendale scored almost immediately to start the game, starting out at the Hoover 36-yard line after a 36-yard kickoff return by Mike Davis with a 15-yard Hoover penalty tacked on. Yoon completed the two-play drive with a four-yard run at the 11:36 mark, but the score would remain 7-0 until close to halftime.
Hoover only drove once into Nitros territory in the first half, hamstrung by 55 yards in first-half penalties. Glendale certainly had some opportunities to increase the lead, but lost a fumble late in the first quarter, missed a 46-yard field goal early in the second and was stopped on fourth and one at the Tornadoes' three-yard line with under 5:00 left in the first half.
"We had some opportunities, we just couldn't capitalize on some things," third-year Nitros Coach Alan Eberhart said. "That's them playing good defense."
But following its red-zone stand, Hoover couldn't move the ball out from deep in its own territory and Glendale had the ball right back at the Hoover 19 after Davis' 12-yard punt return.
On the first play of the possession, Nitros quarterback Evan Norton pump faked and hit Davis over the top of two defenders for a touchdown at the 2:28 mark and a 13-0 halftime lead. Norton completed seven of 21 passes for 92 yards with all of his completions going to Davis.
Hoover came out like a different team to begin the second half, with Luke Taboyayong returning a punt 35 yards to the Hoover 45 before quarterback Alex Rangel moved the drive to the 20-yard line with a 29-yard completion to David Hernandez.
But Taboyayong fumbled on the very next play and it was recovered by James Recinos of Glendale.
"They're a good football team, but we definitely made a lot of mistakes," said Hoover Coach Andrew Policky, whose team fumbled away the ball on its first two red-zone forays of the game, both in the second half. "We were misaligned a lot on offense, it was a pretty ugly performance by us overall. We played hard, though, so that's something that we can build on."
Glendale upped its lead to 20-0 at the 4:06 mark of the third quarter, aided by another short field, driving 11 yards for a three-yard rushing touchdown by Norton.
"Their first punt was good and that scared us, but after that they didn't punt well and we were able to run the ball and throw the ball a bit," Eberhart said. "I thought they defensively played us pretty tough."
Hoover would rally for a touchdown on the final play of the game to break up the shutout on a 10-yard pass from Rangel to Rafael Martinez. Rangel was 12 for 20 for 147 yards.
"They kept fighting the whole night all the way down to the last snap," Policky said. "As long as we're playing hard, we've got a chance."
Glendale entered the game with a 47-33-2 series record. The only other time the teams played twice in a single season was in 1937 and Glendale went 1-0-1, tying, 6-6, and then winning, 12-0, in the then-league championship game.