It is a natural matchup between Crescenta Valley High and La Cañada High — two schools situated just six miles apart. And so when the two schools met on the football field on Sept. 15, it was a neighborhood affair.
Although visiting La Cañada dominated time of possession early on, it was Crescenta Valley that controlled the scoreboard, earning a 33-21 victory over the Spartans at Moyse Field.
For Crescenta Valley (3-1 overall), it was the first home win since its undefeated 2019 season. It was also the first time the hosts had won consecutive games since that campaign. The Falcons now have also exceeded their win total from any of the last three seasons.
“The only thing I told them before the game was ‘Protect this house, guys. We haven’t won at home [since 2019], so we’ve got to win,’ and we got it done tonight,” Falcons coach Hudson Gossard said.
It was also some payback from last season’s encounter that La Cañada (2-3) won 45-42, something that was on the mind of Falcon senior Andranik Saryan, who scored a rushing and receiving touchdown, as well as one on defense.
“This was a great win, you know,” Saryan said. “La Cañada beat us last year so we had to get them now, you know what I mean? It was a tough game but we finished through.”
La Cañada came out with the game plan to control the ball, and it worked in every way except on the scoreboard. The Spartans started with the ball and went on a 12-play drive that spanned the majority of the opening quarter. However, deep in Falcon territory, the drive ended when quarterback Macky Plocher’s pass was batted up into the air, which Saryan picked up and rumbled 64 yards for a touchdown with 4:18 remaining in the first.
The Spartans’ offense got the ball back and kept it for the rest of the quarter, but Crescenta Valley’s 7-0 lead remained intact for the duration of the frame. This La Cañada drive also ended in a turnover in the second quarter when Falcon Jesse Flores recovered a fumble by the Spartan quarterback.
“We knew that we were going to have to control the ball,” La Cañada coach Dave Avramovich said. “We did that and then the score kind of got away from us and we had to press a little bit more then we wanted to. I’m proud of our kids for not quitting.”
The ensuing Falcon drive took a total of 13 seconds as, on the hosts’ first offensive snap of the contest, Jacob Deno threw a pass out in the right flat to Andranik, who took it the rest of the way for an 80-yard touchdown and a 14-0 lead.
“We were planning that play all week,” Saryan said.
The visitors then went on another extended drive, which ate up 7:04 off the clock and covered 67 yards. However, this one resulted in points, culminating with a five-yard rushing touchdown by Lorenz Bayug and PAT kick to make it 14-7.
The Falcons got the ball back with 3:17 to go and at their own 20-yard line, ending when Saryan plowed into the end zone for a 1-yard rushing touchdown with three seconds to go. The half ended on the ensuing kickoff with the Falcons leading 20-7, despite only possessing the ball for 3:27 compared to the Spartans’ 20:33.
“The first half was crazy,” Gossard said.
The second half saw Crescenta Valley get the ball first and go on an extended drive of its own. It covered 71 yards in 10 plays and ended with a touchdown on a wide receiver screen to the left from Deno to Xavier Thompson for a 19-yard score. The quarter ended with the hosts up 26-7.
Crescenta Valley padded the advantage early in the fourth quarter quarter when a 54-yard drive finished with a 2-yard quarterback sneak by Deno to push the lead to its peak at 33-7 with 10:18 remaining.
La Cañada scored two touchdowns in the final 7:07. The first came on a 47-yard touchdown throw by Plocher that first popped out of a Falcon defender’s two hands before reaching Alan Razo, who took it the rest of the way for the score.
The ensuing Falcon possession started with a 35-yard run by Bjorn Hermansen. However, the second play saw Hermansen fumble the ball away on another rushing attempt. The Spartan drive that followed was aided by multiple Falcon penalties and ended when Plocher scored a 1-yard rushing touchdown with 1:31 to go.
The Spartans then attempted an onsides kick and, after the first two attempts were negated by offsides penalties, La Cañada inserted kicker Gayana Khachatourian. The junior executed the attempt, but it was recovered by the Falcons, who knelt down to run out the clock and seal the win.
Deno finished 9 of 16 for 177 yards passing and three touchdowns, with one on the ground. Hermansen finished with three catches for 25 yards and eight carries for 93 yards. Thompson and Flores each had two catches for 28 and 17 yards, respectively. Chander Thome had one catch for 27 yards. Flores also had 50 yards on five carries.
Plocher finished 13 of 19 for 141 yards passing while rushing the ball 11 times for 23 yards. Razo had four catches for 73 yards, Luke Raulli had three catches for 23 yards, and Hayden Dancseces and Tyler Bond had two catches apiece for 20 and 25 yards, respectively. Bayug had 20 carries for 83 yards, while Sohan Garg had 25 yards on eight rushes.
First published in the September 23 print issue of the Glendale News-Press.