Defense leads way as St. Francis football shuts out Pasadena

LA CAÑADA — From the perspective of the St. Francis High defense, it was a rather exceptional outing.

But from the vantage point of the Golden Knights' offense, things got a little bit ugly.

However, it all equated to a rather sterling result Thursday night at Friedman Field, as St. Francis shut out visiting Pasadena, 35-0.

"You gotta be careful to use that phrase," said Golden Knights Coach Jim Bonds of calling the game ugly. "We were sloppy on offense, no question. We just sputtered.

"We expected the defense to play well and they didn't let us down."

Defensive end Gabriel Grbavac had three of St. Francis' six sacks as the Golden Knights (2-0) held the Bulldogs (0-3) to 37 total yards (negative-22 rushing, 59 passing).

"I think we played really strong defensively and we got after the ball," Grbavac said. "Our coaches had us really well prepared all week."

The game never really got into a rhythm thanks in large part to the teams combining for 27 incomplete passes on 46 attempts and myriad penalties, with St. Francis finishing with 11, including seven holding calls.

Still, the Golden Knights' rushing attack pushed through some difficult offensive times with 251 yards in 32 carries and four touchdowns. Jace Harrick notched a game-high 98 yards in 13 carries with a score, while Elijah Washington added 87 yards on nine carries and a touchdown.

Leading, 14-0, but driving as the fourth quarter started, the Golden Knights essentially put the game to bed when Maxx Jakeway bulled in from five yards for a 21-0 advantage with 11:55 to go in the game.

Washington then dazzled with an excellent 32-yard run to paydirt as he busted the play outside, got a great block from Gabriel Mathews and then juked a defender to the ground before scoring.

Receiver/reserve quarterback Greg Dulcich then concluded the scoring with a 50-yard run to the outside, coming only a few plays after a shorter touchdown had been called back on holding.

In the first half, quarterback Michael Bonds found receiver Daniel Scott for a 22-yard score, but that was the biggest highlight for the passing game. Bonds threw some ill-advised balls and endured a slew of dropped balls as he did his best to escape pressure.

"I think defensively we did a good job overall," said Scott, who had three catches for 66 yards and an interception on defense. "Offensively, I think we just never clicked, but we're getting there."

Bonds, who dazzled to the tune of four passing touchdowns the previous week in a 42-7 win at West Covina, finished six of 19 for 86 yards, a touchdown and an interception.

Led by two Grbavac sacks in the first half, St. Francis relinquished just 33 total yards.

St. Francis' offense tallied 140, highlighted by 71 on nine carries from Harrick and Scott's 66 yards receiving.

But the Golden Knights didn't take the lead until Harrick plunged in from two yards out with 23 seconds to go in the opening quarter. The 7-0 lead really only came to be thanks to a five-yard Pasadena penalty on fourth and sixth in which St. Francis was attempting a field goal. Then, on fourth and one, Jakeway rumbled for four yards.

Scott's interception set up the second score when the Knights took over on the Pasadena 44. Four plays later on second and 10, Bonds found Scott, who spectacularly broke free of two tackles and used a Mathews block at the goal line for a 22-yard score.

On the ensuing drive, Pasadena looked to have converted a fourth down, but was flagged for an illegal block. Then came another penalty and finally a questionable fake punt that resulted in a yard loss. Two straight Pasadena personal fouls had the Golden Knights at the Bulldogs' 21, but St. Francis went backward and had to settle for a missed 46-yard field goal.

But in the second half, particularly the fourth quarter, the running game really broke through and the defense never let down.

Said Jim Bonds: "I think we played great team defense."