By Brian PARK
CV Weekly Intern
The math is simple: Two great teams equal one amazing game, and what a game it was Friday night. With both teams fighting to keep their undefeated records, the Saint Francis Golden Knights pulled through for the win at home. The clash of these two physical entities tapped into the true potential of both teams.
The Falcons won the toss and chose to receive, but dropped the football to start with an automatic touchback. On the first series the Falcons looked jumpy and too excited which led to an interception thrown by quarterback Kyle Cota. The Golden Knights couldn’t convert the turnover to points and punted in to the end zone for a touchback. On the second play on the Falcon drive, Cota held on to the ball too long and fumbled at the two yard line and couldn’t recover it. The Golden Knights scored on the fumble easily to get an early 7-0 lead. Harry Pessy received the kickoff and returned it for 18 yards. Due to penalties, the Falcons failed to score and had to punt.
The defense must have been pumped after letting Saint Francis score so early, because they stepped up to prevent the Golden Knights from scoring for the rest of the half, although some penalties were called on the defense. The defense held the Knights to a field goal attempt which was missed.
The missed field goal was the last time during the first half that Saint Francis would be close to scoring out on offense. The Falcon offense, led by Kyle Cota, gained momentum to stomp down the field on a 17 yard drive, which ended with a touchdown pass from Cota to sophomore Nick Ruiz.
With the start of the third quarter, the Falcons had all the momentum kicking off. The Falcon defense made quick work of the Golden Knight offense to get the ball back. First play of the second half on offense and Harry Pessy broke a couple of tackles to run in for a touchdown. The touchdown got the Crescenta Valley crowd riled up.
After playing an amazing first half, the Falcon defense seemed to be worn out. The Golden Knights ran all over the Falcon defense to score a touchdown, but missed the kick to keep the Falcons ahead 14-13.
The Falcon offense started at the 20 yard line after another dropped kick into the end zone. The Falcon drive was going well until falling short of a first down after several plays. With a fourth and one situation, the Falcons played it safe and decided to punt. The defense was sloppy and allowed the punt returner to gain 35 yards on the return, setting up for a touchdown. On the next play Saint Francis scored and got the two point conversion to gain a 21-14 lead.
Pessy returned the kickoff from Saint Francis for a few yards to get the Falcons in a workable field position. Cota, shaken up from the 14 point run Saint Francis had going, had a couple of incompletions to end the series with a punt.
The Falcon defense, looking to redeem themselves, played spectacular on this Golden Knight possession especially. The Falcons hit the Saint Francis running back hard enough to make him fumble, putting the Falcons in position to score. Pessy had a nice carry to start the possession, but after a couple of plays the Falcons were faced with a fourth and one. With a dim situation in their hands, the Falcons were blessed with an offside flag on Saint Francis which left the home crowd shocked and the Crescenta Valley crowd shouting with joy. Pessy scored a few plays later to tie the game at 21 and things were starting to get intense.
Without much time to rest, the Falcon defense had to back out against the tough Saint Francis offense. The Golden Knights made their scoring drive look as easy as beating the Detroit Lions. The Knights made the extra point, extending their lead to 28-21.
Without any time to spare, the Falcon offense tried for the comeback. Harry Pessy returned the kick for a few yards leaving a lot of ground to cover for the Falcons. Cota threw to receiver Ruiz, who was having a great game, for a nice gain. After a few plays in which the Falcons could not gain yards, Cota came through to run for the first down. Close to the end zone, Cota threw a costly game-ending interception to leave the Falcons devastated with their eighth straight loss to the Golden Knights.
“I thought we played hard, and I’m pleased with our effort. We desperately wanted to win and unfortunately fell short,” said Falcon Varsity Head Coach Tony Zarrillo.
“One of the best high school football games I have ever been to,”said Crescenta Valley High School Principal Linda Evans echoing what many in the stands thought.