After three close games to begin the season, the St. Francis High football team went in a different direction.
With an impressive performance on offense and another outstanding effort on defense, things clicked quite well for the Golden Knights on Friday in the Santa Clarita Valley.
St. Francis received two touchdown catches from Tanner Tomko, a huge ground game from Kevin Armstead and the defense forced three turnovers to propel visiting St. Francis to a 28-7 nonleague win against Saugus at College of the Canyons.
St. Francis (3-1) never trailed against Saugus (3-2) and held a comfortable lead late in the second half after seeing its first three contests decided by seven points or less against Mira Costa, Damien and Westlake.
“We had those close games to start off the season and I liked the way we came out to play tonight,” St. Francis coach Jim Bonds said. “We were able to come out and get a couple of early touchdowns and that gave us some breathing room.
“I liked the way our defense played with getting those three turnovers. We were able to convert on two of them and that just gives you that much more confidence going forward the rest of the way.”
The Golden Knights, who finished second in the Angelus League last season, took a 7-0 lead when quarterback Jack Clougherty tossed a 14-yard touchdown pass to Tomko with 3:13 left in the first quarter.
St. Francis’ Ethan Monroe recovered a fumble on the Saugus 28-yard line on the ensuing possession and the Golden Knights responded on a 17-yard touchdown strike from Clougherty (nine of 20 for 168 yards) to Tomko to extend the lead to 14-0 with 2:05 to go in the first quarter.
“We got off to a real good start and that’s what we wanted to do,” said Tomko, who had a first-half sack. “It’s no better feeling than getting off to a lead like that and then everybody doing their job the rest of the way.”
Late in the second quarter, Mikey Kane of St. Francis intercepted a pass by Saugus quarterback Colton FitzGerald at the St. Francis 30-yard line. The Golden Knights converted on the miscue when Armstead (26 rcarries for 196 yards) scored on a 78-yard touchdown with 1:20 remaining in the first half to make it 21-0.
St. Francis made it 28-0 on a one-yard run by Max Garrison with 1:18 to play in the third quarter.
Saugus closed out the scoring on a two-yard touchdown run up the middle by Julian Bornn with 10:17 left in the fourth quarter.
Garrison was ejected from the game with 6:09 remaining in the fourth quarter for what was ruled targeting on a Saugus receiver. The officials huddled near midfield before deciding to eject the sophomore.
Garrison will not be able to compete against Harvard-Westlake in a nonleague home game next Friday unless the ejection is rescinded by the CIF Southern Section office, Bonds said.
“It looked like he hit him in the shoulder,” Bonds said. “Max didn’t him him with his head, so we’ll have to see what happens.”
St. Francis’ Mayze Bryant had an interception in the second quarter.
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