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St. Francis football gets boost from defense in win against St. Paul

St. Francis football gets boost from defense in win against St. Paul
St. Francis' Jasher Foster jumps over St. Paul defender Theoren Landeros during a game on Friday, October 30, 2015. (Roger Wilson/Staff Photographer) (Roger Wilson/Staff Photographer)

When St. Paul High scored a touchdown to tie the score early in the first quarter of the Angeles League football game Friday against St. Francis, it looked as if the Golden Knights could be in for an offensive slugfest.

But the St. Francis defense wouldn't let that happen.

After the initial score by the Swordsmen, the Golden Knights defense clamped down, changing the complexion of the game. St. Francis shut down the St. Paul offense the remainder of the contest, stuffing the visitors on six straight possessions.

While their defense shined, the Golden Knights clicked on offense, led by quarterback Miles Bryant and receiver Jasher Foster. With both facets of its game working well, St. Francis was able to roll to a 24-7 victory against visiting St. Paul.

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"After that first touchdown, I thought our defense stepped up," St. Francis Coach Jim Bonds said. "I thought our defensive coaches made some great adjustments and our guys got used to the speed St. Paul was using with their quick counts and them coming off the ball. I think after they experienced the game speed with them for one possession our guys started to catch on and they became pretty stingy after that."

The win was the second in a row in Angelus League play for the Golden Knights (6-3, 2-2 in league), who began the league campaign with tough losses to Salesian and Harvard-Westlake.

"We are a young team and we realized that we were making some mistakes and we were having some individuality problems, especially in those two league losses," said Bryant, a junior, who completed 12 of 16 passes for 204 yards and two touchdowns. "We knew that we had to step it up and we had to come together as a team to get going. We have been practicing a lot better and I think that's showed on the field."

Bryant's favorite target on the night was Foster, who hauled in six passes for 120 yards and two touchdowns.

"I'm really thankful for No. 11 (Bryant) and I'm thankful to have an offensive line that gives him enough time to get the ball off," Foster said.

St. Francis also received a solid effort from junior running back Jace Harrick, who carried the ball 23 times for 89 yards and a touchdown. He also had an interception on defense.

The Golden Knights scored two of their first-half touchdowns off of St. Paul (5-4, 2-2) turnovers. The first turnover led to a Harrick one-yard touchdown with 9:55 left in the first quarter.

But the Swordsmen responded, scoring with 6:54 remaining on a two-yard run by sophomore Armando Velasco to knot things at 7.

Following a fumble recovery, St. Francis made it 14-7 when Bryant connected with Foster on a 25-yard touchdown strike at the 7:07 mark of the second half. The two would team up again, this time on a 30-yard effort with 52.1 seconds remaining in the half.

The Golden Knights went into the locker room with a 21-7 advantage.

In the second half, the only scoring came via the foot of junior kicker Dulles Hanula, who booted a 28-yard field goal with 10:22 remaining in the game.

With some upsets that have occurred in the league this season, Bonds said his team will have to assess the scenario as far as the playoff picture is concerned with one game on the regular-season docket left next week at La Salle.

"This league has been so wacky," said Bonds, whose team is ranked No. 8 in the CIF Southern Section Southeast Division. "We will have to see all the scores that come in tonight and then figure it out and see who we need to root for next week.

"But we have got to do our job and win our next game."

St. Francis heads into the final week of league tied at 2-2 for third place and the final automatic playoff spot with Salesian and St. Paul, while La Salle is winless. Cathedral and Harvard-Westlake are tied for first at 3-1 after the former defeated the latter on Friday.

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