PASADENA – On an evening in which the St. Francis High football team committed its share of errors, the Golden Knights received a titanic effort from running back Elijah Washington.
The senior ran behind gaping holes from his offensive line and utilized his skill and speed to tack on even more yardage as he rushed for 236 yards and five touchdowns on 23 carries in St. Francis’ 49-16 Angelus League victory at Pasadena La Salle on Friday.
“The biggest thing is that we found ourselves in a little bit of game there in the third quarter and the guys bounced back and blew the top off in the fourth quarter,” St. Francis coach Jim Bonds said. “We’re happy to get a ‘W’ on the road and in the Angelus League; it doesn’t matter who you’re playing, that’s an accomplishment.”
The meeting was the final between the schools in league play as La Salle will be leaving next season to join the Del Rey League. The victory closed out a perfect 4-0 mark in the league rivalry for the CIF Southern Section Division III No. 5-ranked Golden Knights versus the Lancers (3-4, 1-1 in league) as St. Francis improved to 7-0 and 2-0 in league.
St. Francis took a 28-7 lead into halftime, but witnessed La Salle pull within 12 points.
The Lancers opened the third quarter with an eight-yard touchdown pass from quarterback CJ Montes (15 for 34 for 136 yards with one touchdown and interception) to Justin Lockhart.
That score was followed by a blocked punt by La Salle’s Damian Curl that was knocked out of the end zone for a safety and brought the home team within 28-16 at 7:16 in the third.
Just when La Salle narrowed its gap, St. Francis counter-punched with Washington.
After St. Francis’ defense forced a three-and-out, the Golden Knights marched 67 yards and scored on a 19-yard touchdown from Washington, who trucked his defender at the two-yard line before flying into the end zone.
The score and subsequent point-after put St. Francis up, 35-14, with 2:01 left in the third.
St. Francis’ defense again forced another three-and-out from La Salle, whose punter shanked a five-yard punt that gave the Golden Knights possession at the Lancers’ 32.
Two Washington runs thrust the Golden Knights into the red zone where quarterback Darius Perrantes capped the drive with a nine-yard keeper to put the visitors ahead, 42-16, at 11:16 in the fourth.
Again, La Salle quickly punted and again St. Francis gashed the Lancers behind Washington.
The senior first broke a 52-yard run down the sidelines.
Despite getting his helmet ripped off the next play on a facemask penalty, Washington scored the last of five touchdowns from three yards to ice the game as St. Francis led, 49-16, with 8:03 left.
“I haven’t had a game like this since Pop Warner,” Washington said. “Our passing game wasn’t going as we planned, but the offensive line was making huge holes for me and I just ran through them.”
The score may cover up a somewhat shaky effort from the Golden Knights, at least early on.
St. Francis totaled 85 yards in penalties, was intercepted twice, had a punt blocked and had one fumble fortuitously recovered by an offensive lineman.
St. Francis opened with a one-yard score for Washington followed by a fumble recovery in the end zone by Matt Barriga for a touchdown to take a 14-0 lead at 3:20 in the first quarter.
Kevin Armstead (four carries for 56 yards) had an initial six-yard carry, was hit at the one by a trio of Lancers defenders and fumbled into the arms of Barriga, who barrel-rolled into the end zone from a score.
St. Francis also received an interception from Michael Sorokin on an errant pitch from Montes and a fumble recovery from Tony Norton when a La Salle 79-yard kick return was stripped and recovered at the 20.
Perrantes finished 11 for 20 for 169 yards and two interceptions with 34 yards on nine carries and one rushing touchdown.
St. Francis’ Blake Howard finished with six receptions for 102 yards and recorded a sack on defense.