By Seth AMITIN
Between the 50-yard kick returns, the red zone fumbles, the strings of penalties and the incredible plays on both sides of the ball, the most heartbreaking play for Falcons fans was the 19-yard run on fourth down by the Falcons’ Paul Perugini that fell one yard short of a first down with under a minute left in the game.
Pasadena took possession on downs and took a knee for the final play of the game to beat the Falcons, 21-14, at Moyse Field on Friday night. It was the first time the Falcons (4-3, 2-2 in Pacific League play) have lost consecutive league games since 2007-08.
“We can’t go backwards like we did tonight,” said Falcons Head Coach Paul Schilling. “We’d make a great play and then go backwards three yards.”
The senior Perugini made his first start on Friday. He passed for 148 yards, completing eight of 16 pass attempts. He also rushed for 30 yards with a touchdown.
“Perugini did a great job at quarterback today,” said Schilling.
Mark Sereno rushed for 78 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries for the Falcons.
The Falcons met a formidable opponent in the Bulldogs and Pasadena’s quarterback Brandon Cox. The sophomore had 150 yards rushing in the game.
“Our night was about just missing,” said Schilling about his team’s performance. “Just missing first downs, just giving them third and 12.”
Despite a bad start, which saw the Falcons down 14-0, Crescenta Valley managed a touchdown on a five-yard run by Sereno with 35 seconds left in the half to cut the deficit, 14-7.
The Falcons started the second half strong, when Kevin Fernandez returned the kick-off 50 yards. CV started their drive on the Pasadena 45-yard line. Perugini ran in five yards for the touchdown to tie the game, 14-14, with 8:49 left in the third quarter.
“We came back tonight,” said Schilling. “We almost had the lead there.”
When it looked like Pasadena was going to score again, and Cox was finding the running and passing holes in the CV defense, the Falcons forced a fumble on their own 30-yard line and senior Chris Fierro jumped on it for his second of two fumble recoveries.
Crescenta Valley returned the fumble favor, however, some plays later on the Pasadena 19-yard line.
On the ensuing drive, CV’s defense forced a three-and-out on the Bulldogs’ first set of downs, and Pasadena prepared to punt on fourth and 8. But a roughing the kicker call got Pasadena a new set of downs.
The Falcons got the ball back again after a failed Bulldogs fourth-down conversion and things looked good when Perugini found Sereno for a 46-yard pass. But again, penalties struck and the Falcons had to punt on fourth and 27.
The Bulldogs (3-4, 2-3) scored on the next drive to take the lead for good, 21-14, culminating in a three-yard touchdown run by sophomore Andreese Brown with 1:56 left.
Crescenta Valley mounted a comeback and got into Pasadena territory, but Perugini’s 19-yard run fell short on a fourth and 20 with almost no time left.
The loss is the second consecutive league loss for the Falcons, who lost to Muir last week. The Falcons will have to face the top three teams in the Pacific League – Burroughs, Arcadia and Burbank – in the next three weeks.
They play Burroughs tonight, Thursday, at 7 p.m. at Moyse Field.