SOUTHEAST GLENDALE — Kevin Hello quickly got around his blocker and jumped in an attempt to block a game-winning field-goal attempt. By the time he landed, Hello felt the ball graze his knee and he heard the roar of the crowd.
The Crescenta Valley High football player instinctively raised his arms into the air knowing he made one of the biggest stops for the Falcons in what’s turned out to be a disappointing season.
Hello’s stand provided the Falcons something to cheer about after they recorded a 21-19 Pacific League win against Hoover on Friday night at Glendale High’s Moyse Field.
“I was ready to lay out and dive if I had to,” said Hello, who blocked a 35-yard attempt by Jesse Pina with 34 seconds remaining in the contest. “I felt like it was my duty to go out there and make that play.
“It’s a do-or-die play. I kind of knew it would be up to our defense to have to make a big play.”
Crescenta Valley (4-5, 2-4 in league) held off Hoover (3-6, 1-5) despite committing four turnovers. It received a big effort from running back William Wang, who rushed for 227 yards in 20 carries and two long touchdowns.
It was Wang, though, who fumbled at the Hoover 26-yard line with 3:53 remaining. That set up one final scoring chance for Hoover.
The Tornadoes marched down the field and into the red zone with 59 seconds left. Crescenta Valley linebacker Paul Gamez sacked Hoover quarterback Brendon Kerr for a six-yard loss to the Crescenta Valley 18-yard line on third down.
Hoover called timeout to set up for a field goal. The snap was short-hopped and placed down on the ground before Hello deflected it. Crescenta Valley’s Forrest Graves scooped up the loose ball and returned it to the Hoover 22-yard line. The Falcons ran out the clock on the ensuing play.
“It was a bad snap, but Kevin is super fast,” said Crescenta Valley Coach Paul Schilling, whose team ended a three-game losing streak. “That’s what he does.
“I feel bad [for Pina]. Hoover has a very good team. [Hoover Coach Andrew Policky] has done a great job in the two years he’s been there.”
Policky said the Tornadoes, who lost for the sixth time in their last seven games, had their chances, but couldn’t quite come through.
“Jesse’s a pretty good kicker,” Policky said. “We just lost it on the snap.
“It’s a close game and you can look back on 10 plays. If one of them goes right, we win.”
Wang gave Crescenta Valley a 7-0 lead on the game’s second play from scrimmage on a 48-yard run. On the ensuing kickoff, Crescenta Valley’s Jack Hwang recovered a fumble at the Hoover 31-yard line.
Shortly thereafter, Crescenta Valley quarterback Brian Gadsby, who was called up from the junior varsity team this week, had a pass intercepted by Hoover linebacker Zack Hanson at the 26-yard line and Hanson ran it back to the Crescenta Valley 17-yard line.
Hoover capitalized on the turnover when running back Jose Abrina scored on a five-yard run to make it 7-6 with 10:12 left. Crescenta Valley stopped Hoover on the two-point conversion.
The Tornadoes took a 12-7 lead when Pina scored on a two-yard run with 2:34 left in the second quarter. The Tornadoes were again stopped on the two-point conversion.
Eighteen seconds later, Gadsby tossed a 68-yard touchdown pass down the left side to wide receiver Jack Lutynski to give the Falcons a 15-12 advantage.
Hoover proceeded to march down the field in the closing minutes of the first half. Se Jun Kim scored on a one-yard run on fourth and goal to give Hoover a 19-15 lead with 34 seconds left.
Hoover had the first possession of the second half and drove to the Crescenta Valley two-yard line before the Falcons’ defensive unit dropped Hoover running back Justin Nam for a six-yard loss on fourth down with 2:21 left.
On the next possession, Wang broke loose and scored on a 58-yard run with 34 seconds remaining in the third quarter to make it 21-19.
Gadsby completed two of four passes for 90 yards. Pina rushed for 79 yards in 16 carries.
Crescenta Valley will close out its season with a league road game against rival Arcadia at 7 p.m. Friday. Hoover will meet cross-town rival Glendale in a league game at 7 p.m. Friday at Moyse Field.