Had Cleveland High players held onto the football and not opposing jerseys, they might still have a hold on first place in the Valley 4-A League.
Instead, the Cavaliers fell to Granada Hills, 21-3, Friday night at Cleveland, leaving the Highlanders the lone undefeated member of the 4-A club this side of Banning and Carson.
Granada Hills is 6-0-1 overall and 1-0-1 in league. Cleveland fell to 6-1 and 2-1.
Two long Cleveland drives in the first half were stalled deep in Granada Hills territory because of holding penalties, allowing Granada Hills to take a 7-3 lead at halftime. Irate Cleveland coaches may have covered their players' hands with Teflon at intermission because the holding stopped about the same time passes began slipping through fingers.
"The holding calls took our momentum away," Cleveland Coach Steve Landress said. "And you can't come from behind with guys dropping the ball."
Granada Hills, on the other hand, came out in the third quarter as though the team had been perked up by some strong coffee. Cleveland outhit the Highlanders in the first half, but during two third-quarter scoring drives, Granada Hills dished out the punishment. What'll it be Cavs, one lump or two?
A 42-yard pass from Jeremy Leach to Kyle Jan on second-and-27 from the Granada Hills 16 was the first of two key plays on the Highlanders' initial third-quarter scoring drive.
The second was by Khalid Ali, Granada Hills' leading rusher. But Ali's big play was a block, not a blockbuster run. As Mike Davis swept right end with Tashonne Smith in hot pursuit, Ali decked Smith with a devastating roll block and Davis scored untouched to increase the Granada Hills' lead to 14-3.
Davis, who was playing his first full game in a month since suffering an ankle injury, gave Granada Hills speed to the outside. The senior gained 76 yards while Ali had 77.
"Having Mike back really complemented our offense," Granada Hills Coach Darryl Stroh said. The Highlanders scored the next time they had the ball on an 11-yard run by Ali after Leach had hit Sean Brown with a 30-yard pass over the middle.
Trailing by more than two touchdowns, Cleveland could no longer simply hand the ball to Albert Fann for yardage. Fann gained 120 yards on 19 carries, but had only 36 in the second half.
"Fann is so strong," Stroh said. "Our defensive players were no match for him one-on-one. But like we've done all year, we allowed a lot of yards but only a few points."
Jamie Grossman and Mario Hull alternated at quarterback for Cleveland and combined to complete 13 of 27 passes. During a fourth-quarter string of five straight incompletions thrown by Hull, three were on target but were dropped.
Following the opening kickoff, the Cavaliers moved 63 yards on 9 plays--with Fann carrying 4 times for 30 yards--to the Granada Hills' seven. A gain by Fann to the two was nullified by the first holding call, however, and Cleveland settled for a 24-yard field goal by Derek Chernow.
A second-quarter Cleveland drive of 69 yards was highlighted by three consecutive completed passes thrown by Hull. A 17-yard run to the 11 by Fann was called back because of holding, though, and this time the Cavaliers had nothing to show for their effort.
After the Cleveland field goal, Granada Hills went 77 yards on five plays for the only touchdown of the first half. Davis scooted around right end for 25 yards and Leach dashed 42 yards on a scramble to set up a three-yard scoring run by Davis.
The Cleveland defense stiffened the remainder of the half and allowed the Highlanders just 34 more yards.
Fann gained 84 yards on 12 carries in the first half and Ali had 23 on 6 attempts. BATTLE OF TWO BACKS CLEVELAND VS. GRANADA HILLS RUSHING
Name Att. Yd. Avg. TD Albert Fann 19 120 6.3 0 Khalid Ali 15 77 5.1 1