SOUTHEAST GLENDALE — Behind a phenomenal rushing attack and stingy defense, Crescenta Valley High's football team could seemingly do no wrong, while Glendale could seemingly find no remedy for its ills on both sides of the ball.
Thus, behind 349 yards of Falcons offense on the ground and just 185 total yards given up by the Crescenta Valley defense, the Falcons prevailed on a cold homecoming night over the Nitros, 49-3, in a Pacific League game at Moyse Field.
"They're just so much better than us in every facet," said Glendale Coach Alan Eberhart, whose team lost its eighth straight game in falling to 1-8 overall and 0-6 in league. "They played great defense. We went from side to side, they pursued us. We couldn't run it and we couldn't stop the run."
Senior running back Marro Lee had 131 yards and a touchdown in 18 carries, junior running back William Wang had 122 yards and three touchdowns in five carries and senior quarterback Zac Wilkerson had 73 yards and a score in 73 attempts.
"Our offensive line came up big and Marro and William had big games," said senior receiver Nick Ruiz, who also had eight catches for 108 yards and a touchdown.
Wilkerson added 122 yards passing and a touchdown on nine of 13 completions as the Falcons (6-3, 4-2 in league), who won their second straight game, totaled 496 yards of offense. Another highlight came with the kicking of Pavle Atanackovic, who had two field goals, including a 52-yarder. But it was truly the running game for CV, which is currently tied for third in league with Pasadena at 4-2, that set the tone of the game.
"That was the game plan. We saw them on film and they had trouble stopping [the running game]," Lee said. "We knew we could exploit that."
Defensively, Ruiz and Lee teamed up to shut down Glendale receiver Michael Davis, as the Nitros speedster was held to just two catches for negative one yard and two runs for negative four yards. Meanwhile, the Nitros' Alex Yoon was held in check to the tune of 23 yards rushing in nine carries.
"We shut down Davis and he's the weapon," Ruiz said. "He's their big weapon."
Glendale did have a chance to change things at the onset.
The Nitros took the Falcons by surprise on the first play from scrimmage as quarterback Evan Norton hit an uncovered Muhammad Akhtar for a 77-yard gain. Ruiz, however, took an angle and caught Akhtar at the two, proving to be pivotal, as Yoon was stuffed on the next three plays and Glendale settled for a 19-yard Martin Marin field goal and a 3-0 lead.
It was quickly wiped away as Lee rushed for 41 yards on a 56-yard scoring drive that culminated with a Wilkerson two-yard sneak and a 7-3 lead with 5:32 to go in the first quarter.
After an Atanackovic 35-yard field goal made it 10-3 just 11 seconds into the second quarter, Davis returned a squib kick 44 yards to the CV 46. But once again, the offense couldn't capitalize, just as it could do nothing after a brilliant interception by defensive back Tony Collins at the Glendale one to hold back the Falcons.
Thereafter, CV scored on its final two drives of the first half, as Wang busted up the middle 68 yards untouched on his first carry of the game for a 17-3 lead with 3:20 to go in the half.
Wilkerson then threw a 17-yard lob to Ruiz with 1:02 remaining for a 24-3 lead. In all, the CV defense held Glendale to just 119 first-half yards of offense, while the Falcons chewed up 229 yards on the ground.
The aforementioned 52-yard field goal made it 27-3 early in the third quarter before Lee's four-yard touchdown made it 34-3 with 4:55 to go in the third.
The Falcons then took out their starters, but Wang still turned in 23- and 19-yard touchdown runs to bring on a running clock.
Crescenta Valley, which in myriad scenarios still has a chance to share a league title or fall from an automatic playoff bid, closes out next week's regular season at home against rival Arcadia on Friday, while Glendale takes on Hoover in the annual "Battle for the Victory Bell" the night prior.
"That's the reality [unfortunately], it's all about next week and that's what it's been all about for the last three weeks," Eberhart said. "Bottom line, CV's so much better than us right now."