LA CAÑADA FLINTRIDGE — After Friday night's clash between the Crescenta Valley High and La Cañada football teams was dubbed the Gordy Warnock Memorial Game, the Falcons felt confident they'd extend their winning streak in the annual contest to five games.
Sure enough, Crescenta Valley did just that, defeating the Spartans on the road, 34-14, after narrowly scraping by La Cañada, 38-34, in 2010, just two days after Warnock, CV's former coach, died.
"It is huge [wining these two games for Warnock]," Crescenta Valley Coach Paul Schilling said. "That's really what it's all about."
For the second straight year, the Falcons (2-1) got a win on the shoulders of their running back, Marro Lee. He rushed for 205 yards and three scores in 26 carries Friday, after going for 246 yards and three touchdowns in 25 attempts in 2010.
"We saw him on film doing the same thing," La Cañada Coach Dan Yoder said. "We were worried he was going to do that and he did. We just couldn't stop him"
Crescenta Valley had balance on offense, as Falcons quarterback Zac Wilkerson passed for 181 yards, completing 12 of 18 passes, and ran for 29 more.
Lee got CV on the board first, capping off a 12-play, 80-yard opening drive with a five-yard touchdown run, putting the Falcons up, 7-0, less than six minutes into the game. Wilkerson helped fuel the drive, completing all four of his passes for 48 yards.
Things kept going Crescenta Valley's way when La Cañada (1-2) turned the ball over on the second play of its ensuing drive. Spartans quarterback Matt Jones hit Grant Owen, his wide receiver, on a five-yard pass, which Owens quickly fumbled. Masis Ohanesyan recovered the loose ball, giving the Falcons possession at their own 44-yard line.
Crescenta Valley quickly drove down the field and got another score, as Wilkerson hit Nick Ruiz on a play-action pass that went for 31 yards to La Cañada's 15. Patrick Kim finished the drive off with a 15-yard touchdown run, giving the Falcons a 14-0 lead with 4:01 left in the first quarter. Ruiz finished the game with nine receptions for 119 yards.
Lee ran for another touchdown, this time from four yards out, after Wilkerson found receiver Justin Springfield, who had three catches for 62 yards in the game, on a 30-yard pass. The score put the Falcons in a strong position, up 21-0 with 6:01 remaining in the first half.
Schilling knew the game was far from over, though.
"[La Cañada] comes out to play us every year, even when, on paper, we look like the better team," Schilling said. "This is a big game for them."
Coming into the second half down, 21-0, La Cañada needed a spark and it got that in the form of a 70-yard opening kickoff return to Crescenta Valley's 29 from Franklin Cervenka. Andy Paynter made the return count, breaking a 19-yard touchdown run three plays later to pull the Spartans within 21-7 less than two minutes into the third quarter.
Both teams were shut out the rest of the third quarter, but Ruiz gave Crescenta Valley good field position, as he returned a La Cañada punt 28 yards to the Spartans' 22. Lee struck for this third touchdown on the very next play, a 22-yard run, giving the Falcons a 28-7 lead with 8:43 left in the game.
Schilling was quick to sing Lee's praises after the game.
"Last year when Marro went down we were 4-1 and we didn't win another game after that," said Schilling, who lost Lee to a thumb injury midway through last season. "To me, that is Marro, he is huge."
The Spartans got on the board again when Cervenka broke a 20-yard touchdown run, cutting the lead to 28-14 with 2:27 on the clock. The Falcons got their final score of the game on a five-yard run from David Oh, 28 seconds before the game ended.
Yoder said the Falcons just wore down his defense.
"Most of [our players] are going three ways — offense, defense and special teams," Yoder said. "If you were in that [postgame] huddle you would have seen it."
Lee was happy to see his team win big Friday, especially after the past two rivalry games between CV and La Cañada were decided by no more than five points.
"I hope this is the norm and [the winning streak] isn't going to end," Lee said. "I think the last two years were closer than they should have been. I wasn't too surprised we won like this."