GLENDALE — Eight total turnovers, 28 combined penalties and lethargic play throughout slowed down an emotional war of words before, during and after Friday evening’s Pacific League football contest between Glendale High and host Crescenta Valley at Moyse Field.
Whatever hype was generated 24 hours before the game on Twitter didn’t help either side, particularly the Falcons, who overcame a potential trap in the form of the Nitros in a 27-7 victory.
“This wasn’t our best game. We weren’t sharp, we made mistakes and we should have played better,” said Falcons quarterback Brian Gadsby, who completed 12 of 23 passes for 95 yards, two interceptions and one touchdown. “But a win is a win and I’m happy to take back the [Victory Gong].”
Gadsby was called out by several Nitros players Thursday on Twitter and answered back with a few barbs that same night.
On Friday evening, Gadsby’s teammates came to his defense as the quarterback’s first interception, made by senior Martin Marin, was initially returned for a 66-yard touchdown only to be called back to the Falcons’ 21 on an illegal block in the back.
Nonetheless, Glendale (2-5, 0-4) responded five plays later, scoring on a fourth and goal when backup quarterback Robert Rovira connected with Daniel Jung on a five-yard crossing route which, after a successful point-after attempt, brought the Nitros within 13-7 with 5:52 left in the third.
The score awakened a muddling Falcons team, which immediately responded by marching 67 yards on four plays to the Nitros’ 20.
On the very next play, Falcons senior Kevin Hello (seven rushes for 78 yards) carried up the middle for a 20-yard touchdown as he broke three tackles. The score put Crescenta Valley ahead, 20-7, with 4:01 left in the third and swung momentum back to the Falcons.
“That was obviously a big series for them. It was a game-changer,” Nitros Coach John Tuttle said. “We just couldn’t come back after.”
The Nitros had five possessions after the Hello touchdown and only mustered three first downs, two of which came on the final drive of the evening.
Crescenta Valley (6-1, 3-1) eventually iced the game with a five-yard touchdown run from Hello (also had a third-quarter interception) with 4:39 left in the fourth.
Despite intercepting three passes and holding the Nitros to four total first downs, the Falcons only led 13-0 at the half in part because of a tenacious Glendale defense.
Crescenta Valley’s lone touchdown came on a five-yard out from Gadsby to receiver Jordan Lobianco, who also picked off two passes, with 9:10 left in the second quarter to put the Falcons ahead, 10-0.
The Falcons received the ball at the Glendale 23 after an interception from freshman defense back Tyler Hill, who returned the ball 27 yards.
Even so, the Falcons where driven back to the 35 and needed to convert a fourth and seven before scoring.
After a Nitros’ three and out and punt on their subsequent possession, the Falcons received another solid 25-yard return to the Glendale 27.
The Falcons advanced to the 12, but lost four yards on the next three plays before a 33-yard field goal from Alex Atanackovic with 6:10 remaining in the half.
Atanackovic initially put the Falcons on the board with a 28-yard field goal on Crescenta Valley’s opening drive with 7:35 left in the first.
Crescenta Valley reached the 1, but was turned away on a false start, an incomplete pass and a great tackle from Glendale’s Luis Ruiz that resulted in a five-yard loss.
The Nitros defense also forced two turnovers on downs, which helped counter two interceptions from Lobianco.
“I thought our defense played hard tonight,” Tuttle said. “That’s a good offensive football team and we held them to 27 points. That’s something to be proud of.”
Unfortunately for Glendale, Lobianco’s second pick with nine seconds remaining halted a nine-play, 36-play drive that gave the Nitros three of their four first downs.
“My safety [Hill] and I talked about him playing underneath and me playing on top,” Lobianco said of the interception. “I just played underneath and I grabbed it.”
Glendale’s other interception was turned in by Osvaldo Cortez, while Ricardo Herrera and Ricky Loudermill also added fumble recoveries for the Nitros.