NORTH HOLLYWOOD –– One word describes the Hollywood High football team's 2-0 victory Friday night at North Hollywood: ugly.
Ugly or not, the Sheiks called it a win and called it a night.
“It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish,” co-head coach Kevin Keller told his team moments after its first triumph of the season.
“I’ll take this baseball score,” co-head coach Jim McElroy added.
It was not a well-played game by either team. Numerous penalties on both sides slowed the pace of the action and halted any momentum either side was able to generate.
A first-quarter punt return by North Hollywood’s Jourdan Honore brought the Huskies into Hollywood territory. They eventually got inside the red zone, but what looked like a 17-yard scoring play by Jose Cruz was waived off because of a holding penalty.
Hollywood’s defense buckled down and the Huskies' drive yielded no points, as a fourth-down pass from Cullen Englund sailed out of the end zone.
The score was 0-0 after the first quarter.
The second quarter brought more yellow flags and more miscues. Hollywood recovered a fumble inside the Huskies’ 35-yard line, but poor execution and penalties pushed the Sheiks back to midfield and they ended up punting on fourth and 35.
The punt pinned the Huskies inside their own 15-yard line, then a mishandled snap by quarterback Andrew Morales set them back to their own 2. On third down, Hollywood recovered a fumble at the Huskies' 17 and the Sheiks were poised to score first.
On the next play, however, quarterback Jose Guerra was intercepted by North Hollywood’s Javonte Matthews in the end zone. The first half ended with zeroes on the scoreboard.
Penalties continued to stall drives in the second half. The third proved to be a game of field position, as the teams traded punts and neither advanced inside the opponents' 20.
The stalemate was finally broken with 43 seconds left in the third quarter. North Hollywood had possession at its own 10 when a snap flew over Matthews' head and rolled into the end zone. He recovered the ball before any of the Sheiks defenders could pounce on it, but the safety gave Hollywood a 2-0 lead.
The fourth quarter saw still more penalties, but also one final threat from North Hollywood. Starting a drive at their own 18, the Huskies handed the ball to Adrian Zesati, who broke off a 54-yard run. Sheiks defensive back Jeremi Ross made the tackle at Hollywood's 28.
“I just wanted to catch him," Ross said. "I had to get him."
Back-to-back runs brought up third down. Matthews had a receiver open, but his pass sailed through the back of the end zone. On fourth down, North Hollywood’s Christobal Camarena’s 41-yard field goal try was wide right and short.
Hollywood’s defense had withstood the pressure and produced the only points of the game.
“I’m proud of the shutout, but we need more points,” Ross said.
McElroy attributed the win to the fact that the Sheiks were able to keep the pace of the game to their advantage by winning the field position battle.
“We did enough to keep them from dominating the game and dominating the tempo,” he said.
Ross and other teammates pointed to the absence of running back Ronald Clayton, who missed the game because of an injury, as a reason for the Sheiks' low offensive output.
“A win’s a win," Ross added, noting that the Sheiks will need to work hard in practice to avoid costly penalties. "Our defense stepped up.”
While happy with the win, Keller admitted there is plenty of room for improvement.
“We outlasted them," he told his players after the game. "We had one rule--hit them and attack. Revel in the victory, but understand there’s more work to be done."
That work starts Monday as the Sheiks prepare to face Torres next Friday in Los Angeles. Torres defeated Bernstein 23-13 Friday night.
Score by Quarters
Hollywood -- safety (fumble recovered by North Hollywood in its own end zone), 0:43 left in 3rd qtr.
Records: Hollywood 1-2; North Hollywood 0-3.