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Hart Takes Air Out of Ball, 28-23

Division III: Indians abandon pass in fourth quarter to grind out game-breaking touchdown against Crescenta Valley.


GLENDALE — With its chance for a third consecutive Southern Section Division III championship in jeopardy, Hart High got a reprieve Friday night during its 28-23 victory over Crescenta Valley.

The Indians were clinging to a five-point lead with 9:33 left when Crescenta Valley was called for roughing the punter. Hart took the ball on its own 41, abandoned the run-and-shoot passing attack and went to a power rushing game.

"Here's what I've been waiting for--let's ram it down their throats," line coach Dan Houghton shouted.

Hart ran off 11 consecutive running plays, eight by 225-pound fullback Pete Dubsky.

When quarterback Kyle Matter scored from the one with 4:18 left, it broke the Falcons in Hart's exhausting quarterfinal victory at Glendale High.

"I'm the most tired I've ever been in my life," said Dubsky, also a defensive lineman who spent the night chasing quarterback Hudson Gossard with little success. "It was the offensive line that gave me a shove so I could get five yards a pop.

"[Crescenta Valley] may not have been very big, but they have the biggest hearts I've ever seen. They played like champions."

Not until Todd Wilson fell on Crescenta Valley's onside kick with 59 seconds left could the Indians (10-2) breathe easy.

It got so nerve-racking that Houghton was popping aspirin in the third quarter, feeling the frustration of the defensive line unable to catch Gossard.

Gossard completed 24 of 33 passes for 265 yards from mostly shotgun formation. Jason Burkhart caught 11 passes for 150 yards. Jason Hogan caught 10 passes for 95 yards.

Gossard rolled away from pressure all game, tiring Hart's linemen.

"I think I ate too much turkey [for Thanksgiving]," Dubsky said. "I have too many friends and went house to house."

Hart opened a 21-7 lead in the third quarter on Josh Cummings' 31-yard field goal and Julian Lewis's 32-yard touchdown reception from Matter.

But Crescenta Valley (10-2) refused to give up. Brent Clissold kicked a 32-yard field goal and the Falcons recovered Matter's fumble on the seven-yard line, setting up Bobby Mena's one-yard touchdown run to make 21-16 early in the fourth quarter.

Then came Hart's decisive drive using its goal-line offense.

"It was a good change in strategy," Coach Alan Eberhart of Crescenta Valley said.

Matter completed 18 of 29 passes for 248 yards and one touchdown.

Hart plays St. Francis in a semifinal game.

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