San Marino High School football was off to the Titans’ best start since the 2015 season and looked to keep things going against visiting Crescenta Valley. However, the Falcons did not cooperate with the hosts.
After a tight first half, Crescenta Valley pulled away in the second half and topped the Titans 35-9 in nonleague play on Sept. 8.
“When you look at what [San Marino] had done its first three games offensively and then what we just did to them tonight with our defense, you’ve got to give hats off [to our defense],” Falcons coach Hudson Gossard said. “Our new defensive coordinator Nick Leon did a tremendous job. I think we were fully prepared for all the aspects [the Titans] bring on their offense. They run a lot of different formations. We did a great job holding them to those points.”
Crescenta Valley (2-1 overall) handed San Marino (3-1) its first loss of the season. The Falcons held the Titans to its fewest points of the campaign to date, while also allowing the most points.
“[My team] is in a situation where we have to bounce back from adversity,” Titans coach Nate Turner said. “It’s the first opportunity we’ve had this season to deal with defeat as a group and it’s going to be interesting to see how they respond. Our defense is usually the bread and butter of our team. Tonight was tough. I give a lot of credit to those guys on the other side. They came in with a plan, they executed their plan and walked out of here with a victory.”
After a scoreless first quarter, both teams got it going in the second period. On the first snap of the quarter, Falcons quarterback Jacob Deno went on a sneak for a 1-yard rushing touchdown. CV kicker Bryce Alonzo, who was successful on all five of his PAT kicks, then made it 7-0 Crescenta Valley.
San Marino answered with a 50-yard scoring drive in two plays. The touchdown came on a 47-yard connection from Brady Beck to Sid Danenhauer. The Falcons then blocked the PAT kick to preserve their advantage.
The ensuing possession saw Crescenta Valley go 59 yards and take 6:41 off the clock, ending with a 3-yard touchdown run by Andranik Saryan. Earlier in the possession, Bjorn Hermansen kept the drive alive with an 8-yard run on fourth down to go near midfield.
The hosts came back on the ensuing drive, which featured catches by Mikey Yessaian and Julian Solis for 16 and 15 yards, respectively. It ended with a successful 38-yard field goal by freshman Nick Acuna. The ensuing Falcon possession ended with an interception by Danenhauer, followed by a three-and-out possession by the Titans, before the visitors knelt down to finish the half up 13-9.
The second half saw Crescenta Valley outscore the hosts 21-0. The Falcons broke through on their second possession, which started with a 39-yard reception by sophomore Xavier Thompson and ended with a 3-yard rushing touchdown by Saryan.
The Falcons deployed a squib kick on the ensuing kickoff and CV’s Lachlan Blunt covered the loose ball. On the next snap, Deno dropped a pass out of the sky into the hands of Hermansen and he streaked down the right sideline for a 37-yard touchdown.
“Just beat them with speed. That’s really all it was,” Hermansen said.
San Marino got possession of the next kickoff, but saw the drive end when a fourth-down pass attempt was batted down at the line. The ensuing Falcons drive culminated with an 11-yard touchdown pass from Deno to Thompson.
The Falcons employed another squib kick after that and, once again, got the ball back when Leonidas Grant recovered the ball.
“They were designed squib kicks, not necessarily on-side kicks,” Gossard said.
The Titans defense held after that when the Falcons turned the ball over on downs. The ensuing San Marino drive had a 21-yard run by Coleman Morning and a 17-yard catch by Solis, but ended when Nathan Martinez intercepted Beck in the end zone with 1:34 to go.
Deno finished 16 of 20 for 290 yards with the two touchdowns and one interception. Hermansen finished with 101 yards receiving on seven catches, including the touchdown and three carries for 15 yards. Thompson had four catches for 91 yards and one touchdown. Chander Thome had two grabs for 67 yards, while Cristian Flores had two receptions for 16 yards. Grant had one catch for 24 yards. The Falcons were led in rushing by Saryan, who had nine carries for 20 yards and the two touchdowns.
Beck was 11 of 25 through the air for 168 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. Yessaian had four catches for 25 yards. Danenhauer had two grabs for 97 yards, while Solis and Ryan Park had two catches apiece for 32 and 10 yards, respectively. Nick Escamilla had one catch for four yards, and Coleman Morning led the Titans on the ground with 23 yards on 10 rushes.
“We struggled in the first quarter, but bounced back. It was a great team win,” Deno said.
In the first quarter, Lachlan Blunt recovered a San Marino fumble on the first snap of the contest. It was the first of three turnovers in the period as Torin Blunt had an interception for the Falcons and Nathan Yarahmadi recovered a fumble for the hosts.
“We knew we were battle-tested. We came ready to play and it showed,” Gossard said.
First published in the September 16 print issue of the Glendale News-Press.