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West Valley needs overtime to beat CV 19-13 as Eagles end season undefeated

West Valley's Holden Gilbert tries to break from the grasp of a Central Valley defender in the Eagles' 19-13 overtime win over the Falcons on Friday. The West Valley offense was limited in the first half, but Gilbert came alive in the second half and overtime, running for 131 yards on 17 carries and three touchdowns. (Photo by Tony Hord / Shasta County Sports)

SHASTA LAKE — West Valley got what it wanted. Central Valley got what it needed. And the fans in attendance at Ron Hale Memorial Stadium saw one of the best games of the season as the Eagles outlasted the Falcons 19-13 in overtime.

West Valley was seeking to go undefeated … and did with a 19-yard Holden Gilbert touchdown in the extra time providing the difference. Central Valley (3-2) was looking to knock off their Northern Athletic League foe, but in the end showed it’s a program on the rise and will battle tough for 48 minutes and more, if necessary.

“I don’t like losing at anything, but that was incredible,” CV coach Aaron Richards said of his team’s grit. “I told the seniors they were gypped out of a playoff game … I think we would’ve played Lassen or Sutter or even this club if there had been playoffs, so I told them ‘This is your playoff game.’ ”

West Valley, meanwhile, finishes 5-0 under first-year coach Lenny Ehn and extended the Eagles’ regular-season win streak to 23 games.

Up 19-13, the Eagles defense just needed to stop the Falcons from scoring and kicking the extra point. CV ran dives to Jonny Mack on first and second down, then an off-tackle run to Kade Crowell on third down setting up a fourth-and-5 from the 20. The Eagles then stuffed an option pitch to Jarron Kurtti to seal the victory.

“Once we were able to score in overtime, it put the pressure on them,” Ehn said. “Our defense stepped up (in overtime) and there was elation on the sideline when that final play was over.”

The Falcons came out in the first half, bound and determined to use their wishbone/veer attack to control the clock and keep West Valley’s potent offense off the field. And it worked as the home team ran 36 plays to the Eagles’ 15 plays in the first half.

CV’s Jonny Mack ran for 112 yards on 18 carries and a 39-yard TD in the 19-13 loss to West Valley. (Photo by Tony Hord / Shasta County Sports)

After each team had the ball once in the opening quarter, the Falcons took over on their own 10 and proceeded to bleed nearly 10 minutes from the end of the first and into the second quarter. They engineered a 75-yard, 21-play drive – aided by a roughing the punter and pass interference call that negated an interception – that ended with a 32-yard Russell Baker field goal.

The Falcons’ onside kick caught West Valley napping and eight plays later, Baker nailed a 26-yarder to put CV up 6-0 with just under 2:30 left in half.

“We’re used to being the underdog and it’s honestly where we’re most comfortable,” said CV senior Kade Crowell, “and when you come out and smack them in the mouth, it don’t lie. They most definitely weren’t ready for it.”

The Eagles went intermission down 6-0 after Willie Mowry picked off Noah Mason in the end zone as West Valley was looking for the go-ahead score with seconds left in the half.

“Aaron is such a good coach and I knew they were going to give it their all,” Ehn said. “That team is well coached and he’s got a good bunch of seniors and I’ll tell you what, they hit you in the mouth and don’t back down.

“We’ve been ahead every game this season and this was the first time we’ve been behind in the second half.”

But things didn’t start out well for the visitors as Josh Aguilar fumbled on the Eagles’ first play of the second half. However, the Falcons couldn’t capitalize as Baker’s 32-yard field goal attempt sailed wide right four plays later.

A flock of Falcons look to bring down West Valley running back Holden Gilbert in the Eagles’ 19-13 overtime win on Friday. (Photo by Tony Hord / Shasta County Sports)

On the ensuing possession, West Valley got moving, running the ball nine straight times with Gilbert and Aguilar that resulted in a 3-yard Gilbert TD with just over 2 minutes left in the third period.

The Eagles looked to break the game open as Hayden Boyes intercepted a Mowry pass, returning it to the 3, where Gilbert punched it in for a 13-6 West Valley lead. Gilbert finished with 131 yards rushing on 17 carries and all three West Valley scores.

CV senior captain Kade Crowell catches his breath between plays on Friday. Crowell has been part of a program turnaround at CV, saying “At the end of the day I couldn’t be more proud of what we accomplished in our four years, changing the culture.” (Photo by Tony Hord / Shasta County Sports)

“It’s all about heart,” Boyes said. “I think in the first half we were really lackadaisical and didn’t come to play the game we wanted to play.

“But in the fourth quarter, we knew ‘Hey, we’re the undefeated kids here. We need to get this win.’ ”

However, CV answered on its next possession, capping a seven-play, 65-yard drive with a 39-yard Mack TD run on a dive where he broke two tackles on his way to pay dirt to tie the game at 13. Mack ran for 112 yards on 18 carries and the one score. Crowell added 51 yards on 17 carries.

“We knew they were going to respond and we talked at halftime about how will we respond and ride that wave,” Richards said. “And it’s the same thing over and over, my kids don’t quit. I don’t know what it is, they don’t give up. They’re going to fight you tooth and nail until the very last second.”

CV held a driving West Valley squad on 4th-and-2 deep in Falcons territory and looked to be in position to drive, drain the clock and set themselves up for a possible game-winner from Baker. But Crowell fumbled just inside Eagles’  territory.

West Valley had one final shot to end it in regulation, but two Hail Mary heaves were broken up by CV defenders, forcing an overtime frame not seen in Shasta County in years.

Boyes said he knew that Eagles would find the end zone in the bonus frame.

“I was thinking ‘There’s no chance we’re losing this game,’ ” he said.

On the other side, Crowell fought back tears as hugs flowed and reflected on his part in a rebirth at CV as the Falcons finish 3-2 and with a winning record for the first time since the 2013 season.

“The phrase ‘Leaving it better than you found it’ comes into play,” he said. “That was the seniors’ goal to leave this program better than when we got here.

“We came out to shock the world tonight. It didn’t happen, but at the end of the day I couldn’t be more proud of what we accomplished in our four years, changing the culture.”

Aaron Williams has been involved in the North State sports scene for nearly two decades. He spent eight years as the Sports Editor for the local newspaper and another four more as the voice of high school football on the radio. Williams has coached various sports at the high school level over the past decade, most recently at Shasta High, and is also the public address announcer for the Shasta College football and basketball teams.

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