WEST HILLS — Upon the conclusion of St. Francis High's 31-13 Mission League loss to host Chaminade on Friday night, it looked everything like a formidable offensive showing for the Eagles, ranked No. 1 in the CIF Southern Section Western Division and averaging better 31 points a game.
But from the Golden Knights' vantage point, it was very much their own offense, our lack thereof, that was the key to them falling to 6-2 overall and 1-2 in league.
"Our execution wasn't there," said St. Francis Coach Jim Bonds, who saw his team take a 7-0 lead just 13 seconds into the game, but go scoreless thereafter until their final drive of the game. "All it takes is one guy not carrying out his assignment and we always seemed to have one guy doing that. It wasn't always the same guy, but it was always happening."
Though the game ended largely in a blowout, it truly took a turn for the worse for St. Francis on its two trips into the red zone. The first came in the waning seconds of the first half when it appeared that the Golden Knights had the ball down on the Eagles' five only to see a holding penalty push them into attempting a long missed field goal.
But the killer came in the fourth quarter with 8:06 remaining.
Down just 17-7, Bonds rolled the dice and went for it on fourth and 10 on the Chaminade 38.
St. Francis quarterback Jared Lebowitz found Travis Talianko on a 24-yard gain to convert. But just as suddenly as the Golden Knights had seized momentum, it vanished. Lebowitz scrambled left on the ensuing play and threw an interception inside the five.
"Those are the type of mistakes that killed us," said Bonds of the two red-zone failures. "Jared thought he saw something and their secondary is very good.
"Jared was upset with himself. That happens when you're the guy making that decision."
Chaminade (7-1, 3-0 in league) scored on the ensuing drive to make it 24-7 and another Lebowitz interception followed and just as quickly it was 31-7 and the game was all but a formality.
The Eagles were buoyed by standout running back Terrell Newby, who had 168 yards and his team's first three touchdowns. He ran for 78 yards on his first two carries, but after that was largely bottled up by a St. Francis defense that found itself on the field far too long in the second half.
"He broke a couple of nice runs and it took a minute to gauge his speed," Bonds said.
Tyler Marona had two sacks for the Golden Knights' defense. Offensively, Lebowitz was 18 for 44 with 195 yards passing, two touchdowns and two interceptions. Austin De Los Santos ran for 97 tough yards in 18 carries and Talianko had five catches for 73 yards.
Just 13 seconds into the game, the Golden Knights, ranked sixth in the division, held a 7-0 lead.
After Jordan Lynch recovered a fumble on the opening kickoff, St. Francis scored on its first play from scrimmage when Lebowitz hit Christian Hess on a 22-yard play-action pass.
But it was hardly a sign of things to come, as Chaminade scored 31 straight points and St. Francis dropped its second straight game.
"We have some adversity," said Bonds, whose team will play its third straight road game against St. Paul next week in a seemingly must-win matchup in terms of playoff hopes. "We have to stay as a family and pick our brothers up."