Two of the four best football teams in the Pacific League squared off Friday night at Memorial Field.
In what turned out to be a high-scoring game, Burbank High’s defense forced six turnovers and parlayed this into a 45-23 victory over previously unbeaten Crescenta Valley.
The Falcons came in ranked No. 2 in the CIF Southern Section Division VII and are now 6-1 and 3-1 in league.
The defending league champion Bulldogs are 4-3 and 3-1 in league and were led defensively by junior strong safety Vincent Vang, who accounted for four takeaways, including three interceptions and a fumble recovery.
Two of Vang’s picks went for touchdowns including a 70-yarder with 8:26 left in the first quarter that made it 14-0 and a 23-yarder with 1:28 on the clock in the fourth for the game’s final points.
“This team’s got a lot of heart,” Burbank coach Adam Colman said. “They’re a family. But we’ve gotta finish. We’ve gotta finish. We’ve gotta finish games.”
Crescenta Valley senior quarterback Cole Doyle (11 of 22 for 121 yards) had a rough evening after getting picked off four times and fumbling once.
The Bulldogs, who along with the Falcons are tied with Muir for second place in league, scored on their first series as senior quarterback Matthew Porras (12 of 22 for 227 yards and one interception) directed the team 60 yards on six plays with the capper being a five-yard romp by Porras (71 yards on 14 rushes) with 10:01 left in the first for a 7-0 edge.
“We know that was the narrative they were preaching,” said Colman of the Falcons wanting revenge after last season’s 37-20 loss at Moye Field. “Our defense played amazing. The turnovers were huge. If our defense can make a statement, the offense feeds off that.”
Doyle’s 13-yard scamper with just under three minutes remaining in the opening frame sliced the lead to 14-7.
But Doyle’s fumble recovered by Vang led to a 24-yard field goal by senior Andy Cardenas that made it 17-7 with 6:35 left before the half.
When Porras was called for intentional grounding and 10:06 in the third, the Falcons (386 total net yards) came within 17-9.
Burbank then answered when junior running back Isaac Glover (101 yards on 21 carries) scored on a three-yard burst with one minute in the third to make it 24-9.
“We just kept running and the O-line kept doing their jobs,” Glover said. “I think this was the best game we’ve had all season, besides Pasadena.”
With three games left on the schedule, the Bulldogs (429 total yards) are hoping to finish strong, but are also trying to stay in the moment.
“We’re going one game at a time,” Glover said of their mindset. “We don’t think ahead. Game-by-game. Play-by-play.”
Crescenta Valley, which will play Arcadia (5-2 and 4-0 in league) in the final week, trimmed the lead to 24-16 with 11:41 left in the fourth after Doyle (182 yards on 24 carries) dashed 44 yards for a score.
A three-yard toss by Porras to senior running back Max Mendieta and 7:05 on the ticker in the fourth pushed Burbank’s lead to 31-16.
The Falcons responded with Doyle hitting sophomore wide receiver Sebastian De Leon (20 yards on two receptions) with a seven-yard pass and 5:30 left that cut the margin to 31-23.
When senior running back Chadz Vang (30 yards on four carries) bolted in from four yards out and 1:55 left, Burbank’s lead was 38-23.
Burbank’s next league game will be Friday night at Muir with a 7 p.m. kickoff.