GLENDALE — For nearly three quarters, the Hoover High football team stayed close to the defending Pacific League champion Muir in Thursday night's league opener.
The Tornadoes' defense and the Mustangs penalties allowed Hoover to trail by just 13 points with less than a minute to play in the third quarter.
A better performance on offense might have allowed the Tornadoes to get even closer.
Hoover managed only 36 total yards in 56 plays, and allowed two scores within 52 seconds of the third and fourth quarters, as it ended up losing, 35-3, at Moyse Field.
"We couldn't get a body on a body," Hoover Coach Matt Andersen said.
"Running the ball was hard because they were blitzing too much. The protection was tough because they were blitzing so much."
Muir blitzed as much as it could.
It played man defense on the Tornadoes' receivers and sent a number of Mustangs toward Hoover quarterback Se Jun Kim. The senior was hit or pressured on each of his throws and finished six of 30 for 36 yards.
"We came out to play, we just couldn't execute," said Tornadoes receiver Alvin Kim, who caught three passes for 22 yards.
As much as Hoover — which lost to Muir, 63-0, last year — struggled on offense, its defense and Muir's miscues kept the score close.
After scoring a pair of touchdowns in the first quarter — on a 47-yard scramble by quarterback Dejon Williams and a two-yard run by Daniels Cervantes — the Mustangs managed just 23 yards of total offense in the second quarter.
The Mustangs became frustrated with their play and their mistakes. They had 12 penalties for 120 yards in the first half. They finished with 18 penalties for 185 yards.
"We didn't play well at all," Muir Coach John Hardy said. "I'm not going to take anything away from Hoover, but we made a lot of mistakes. Our players got frustrated. There were a lot of bad calls."
A key fumble frustrated the Mustangs even more.
Hoover defensive lineman Ernest Nadurata, a junior, ripped the ball out of Cervantes' hands with nine minutes remaining in the third quarter, giving the Tornadoes the ball on Muir's 33.
Trailing by 13, Hoover was excited with an opportunity to score, as it had the ball the deepest it had in Mustangs' territory.
But two incomplete passes and a sack pushed Hoover back to the 40, and it had to punt the ball away.
Skylar White added a two-yard touchdown run with 24 seconds left in the third and Tony Claxton returned a fumble 30 yards at the start of the fourth for a 28-0 Muir lead.
Late in the fourth quarter, Nadurata jumped on a loose ball, giving the Tornadoes the ball on Muir's 7.
Hoover couldn't capitalize with a touchdown, but Andres Perez kicked a 24-yard field goal as time expired to prevent the shutout.