LA CAÑADA – For a second straight season, the St. Francis High football team had an opportunity to clinch an Angelus League title with only Los Angeles Cathedral standing in its way.
Unfortunately for the Golden Knights, they were again tripped up by the same hurdle.
The pure athleticism and defensive prowess of the Phantoms proved too much in a 28-16 regular season-ending loss at Friedman Field on Friday night in a battle of league-undefeated foes.
The victory clinched Cathedral (9-1, 5-0 in league), ranked No. 8 in the latest CIF Southern Section Division II poll, its third straight Angelus League title, while Division III No. 5-ranked St. Francis (9-1, 4-1) finished runner-up again.
"There are a lot athletes over on their side, it's a lot to ask our guys to try to stop them for 48 minutes," St. Francis coach Jim Bonds said. "We had a rough time in pass protection and it looked like [quarterback] Darius [Perrantes] was running for his life back there."
Perrantes easily eclipsed his season-high in pass attempts, which was 26, as he completed 20 of 39 passes for 263 yards and one touchdown with one interception, while he was sacked four times.
Perrantes rushed 10 times for 18 yards and was part of a running attack that found very few lanes.
The Phantoms controlled the line of scrimmage as St. Francis rushed 18 times for 29 yards.
"We have some great kids over here who work hard and overcome a lot of obstacles," Cathedral coach Kevin Pearson said. "They're tough. This entire team, they live for these types of games."
Cathedral sophomore Bryce Young was stellar at quarterback for the Phantoms.
Young completed 20 of 26 passes for 250 yards and two touchdowns, while he rushed nine times for 71 yards.
The second of Young's touchdown passes put St. Francis in a tough situation when he connected on a 21-yard scoring pass to Cory Payne on a fourth-and-one situation that gave the Phantoms a 28-16 lead with 4:57 remaining.
St. Francis drove on what turned out to be its final possession, but turned the ball over on downs with 2:17 left at the Golden Knights 34-yard line.
Cathedral closed out the game on three straight runs from running back Omari Garry, who finished with 16 rushes for 109 yards and one touchdown.
Garry highlighted Cathedral's big-play ability when he opened the game with a 48-yard touchdown run at the eight-minute mark in the first quarter to give the visitors a 7-0 lead.
St. Francis answered back with an 11-yard touchdown pass from Perrantes to Andrew Monarrez to tie the game at 7 at 5:24 in the first quarter.
However, St. Francis struggled to score after its opening drive.
The Golden Knights had one of their best chances end in a turnover when Perrantes was intercepted by Cathedral's Victor Terry III right before the end of the first half at the Phantoms' 18.
St. Francis' two other scores were a 32-yard field goal from Nico Boschetti and a six-yard touchdown run from Perrantes with 8:35 remaining that brought the Golden Knights within 21-16. St. Francis missed on a two-point try.
Cathedral added a one-yard touchdown from Tylor Morrison early in the third quarter and a back-breaking 57-yard touchdown screen from Young to Jabari Kindle with 11:48 left that gave Cathedral a 21-10 lead.