lOS ANGELES — Blake Howard had plenty to celebrate during a sensational first half.
Howard had two touchdown catches and had something new to celebrate, as he recorded his first career interception and returned it for a touchdown to help visiting St. Francis register a 69-0 Angelus League win against Salesian on Friday.
“It’s great to score touchdowns, but it’s real cool to get an interception and help the team win again,” said Howard, who finished with three catches for 51 yards. “I came into the game really focused and it was just another opportunity to find a way to contribute.
“I worked out a lot during the offseason and it helped me get faster. Just a lot of running.”
St. Francis (8-0, 3-0 in league), ranked fifth in CIF Southern Section Division III, held a 28-0 lead after the first quarter, getting two touchdown catches from Howard.
St. Francis limited Salesian to 20 yards of offense en route to recording their second shutout of the season. Quarterback Darius Perrantes had four total touchdowns and running back Kevin Armstead finished with 113 yards rushing in four carries and scored two touchdowns.
Howard got things started for St. Francis, hauling in a 16-yard touchdown pass from Perrantes with 9:02 left in the first quarter. Elijah Washington, fresh off a five-touchdown effort a week earlier against La Salle, made it 14-0 on a 27-yard touchdown pass from Perrantes with 7:49 to go in the quarter.
On the ensuing possession for Salesian (1-7, 0-3), Howard picked off a pass at the 23-yard line and scored virtually untouched to widen the lead to 21-0 just 14 seconds later.
“He’s a big part of our team,” St. Francis coach Jim Bonds said. “Blake is definitely a leader on this team and he’s so versatile in that he can line up at fullback, tight end or at slot.
“He’s so dynamic and he’s explosive. It’s all come together for him.”
St. Francis closed out the first quarter scoring with 4:35 left on an 18-yard run by Armstead.
The Golden Knights took a 35-0 lead on a seven-yard run by Perrantes with 10:18 to play in the second quarter. Perrantes completed 10 of 14 passes for 140 yards.
Howard caught a 31-yard pass down the right side from Perrantes to pad the lead to 42-0 with 8:13 left in the first half.
Armstead made it 49-0 on a 46-yard run with 5:30 remaining in the second quarter.
Bobby Gazmarian of St. Francis returned the second-half kickoff 75 yards to make it 55-0.
St. Francis’ Maximus Mota scored on a 14-yard run to make it 62-0 with 3:02 left in the third quarter. The Golden Knights wrapped up the scoring on a 12-yard run from Daniel Fernandez.
The Mustangs have lost seven straight contests.
St. Francis will close out the regular season with two league home games at Friedman Field. St. Francis will face Harvard-Westlake at 7 p.m. Thursday before taking on Cathedral at 7 p.m. Nov. 3.
“It’s going to be a battle, starting with Harvard-Westlake because they’ve given us fits the last few games,” Bonds said. “We know they’ll be ready for us.”