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Crescenta Valley Climbs Mountain, Beats Muir

November 08, 1997|DAVE DESMOND | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

GLENDALE — One team boasted a Sultan, but the other finally achieved Pacific League royalty Friday night.

Crescenta Valley clinched a share of its first league title since 1976, beating all-state running back Sultan McCullough and longtime nemesis Muir, 35-28, before a near capacity crowd at Glendale High.

"The monkey is finally off our backs," Coach Alan Eberhart said. "We've worked awful hard for a very long time to reach this point."

The Falcons (9-0, 4-0 in league play) last beat the five-time defending league champion Mustangs (6-3, 3-1) in 1978. They had lost 18 straight to Muir.

Crescenta Valley's Kenny Pritchett was determined to stop it there.

With former Heisman Trophy winner Charles White, a USC assistant, in attendance to woo the talented McCullough, Pritchett instead wowed the homecoming crowd.

He ran for 238 yards and three touchdowns in 36 carries, out-gaining McCullough, who gained 179 in 23 tries.

"He's beaten me every time we've played," said Pritchett, who scored on runs of five, 46 and five yards and gained 145 of his yards after halftime. "I had to win one."

Pritchett had a lot of help.

Linebacker Jesse Busta intercepted a pass and recovered an onside kick with 27 seconds left.

Linebacker Chris Oliver blocked a second-quarter punt deep in Muir territory, which was recovered by Nathan Vasquez for a touchdown.

Oliver scored a crucial touchdown, taking a handoff from Pritchett on a reverse and scoring from four yards in the fourth quarter. He scored on another inside reverse for a two-point conversion and a 28-21 lead.

"The big players came through in big situations tonight," said Eberhart, whose team squandered leads of 14-6 and 21-14 last season in a painful 22-21 loss to Muir.

McCullough, who had 700 of his 1,458 yards in three league games, scored on second-half runs of 15 and 85 yards and caught a seven-yard scoring pass from LaShaun Ward with 29 seconds left.

Muir outgained the Falcons, 412 yards to 309.

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