CHINO — It took less than three quarters for the St. Francis High football team to not only put host Chino in the rearview mirror, but perhaps too also the memory of a disappointing 2012 season.
The Golden Knights were dominant in Friday’s season opener, scoring practically at will, while surrendering little on defense in a 52-3 nonleague road victory Friday night.
The triumph marked the sixth straight season-opening victory for Golden Knights Coach Jim Bonds, while Friday’s 49-point margin of victory tied the biggest for the program this century as St. Francis previously defeated Pasadena, 62-13, on Sept. 28, 2001.
“I think we needed this. We’ve been saying all along that every year is different and you can’t compare,” Bonds said. “We didn’t want to think at all about 2012 and this was a great way to forget and move on.”
St. Francis iced the contest with 28 points in the third quarter in taking a 52-3 lead and forcing a running clock before the period was done.
Golden Knights quarterback Ty Gangi capped a solid debut with his third and final touchdown pass with 9:34 left in the third.
Gangi connected on a short dump off to senior Joe Mudie (two catches for 55 yards and a touchdown and 13 carries for 124 yards and two more scores) out in the flat that turned into a 46-yard score down the sideline (thanks in part to a great downfield block from wide receiver Danny Ursitti) that put the Golden Knights ahead, 31-3, with 9:34 left.
“It was just a great start. The offensive line gave me all the time in the world, Joe had some big runs and the defense played great,” said Gangi, who completed 14 of 20 passes for 216 yards. “We worked hard and everything seemed to work.”
The score opened up the floodgates, as St. Francis added follow-up scores on a 13-yard touchdown from Mudie, a 45-yard interception return from Avery Williams and a 39-touchdown scamper from backup quarterback Matt Bayle with 59 seconds left in the third to finish the scoring.
“I’m part of a great team with a great defense and I don’t have to do much,” Williams said of his interception return for a score. “I think the receiver fell down or something, but I just made a play on the ball.”
With a running clock and little interest from either side, the fourth quarter was a scoreless affair.
For a while, it appeared St. Francis would run away with the game before the Cowboys slowed things a bit in trailing, 24-3, at halftime.
The Golden Knights rolled offensively and defensively early, as St. Francis scored on its first three possessions, while Chino didn’t pick up a first down until its fourth go-round.
By then, St. Francis had already scored on two touchdown passes from Gangi of 11 and 16 yards to Dylan Crawford and John Carroll, respectively.
The touchdown strike to Carroll, a tight end drag in which the 6-foot-3, 220-pound junior ran unabated into the end zone, gave the Golden Knights a 21-0 lead with 6:20 remaining in the first quarter.
The secret to St. Francis’ quick-strike offense was great field position given by a defense that came up with an interception from junior defensive back Mason Williams and positioned the Golden Knights’ offense on the Cowboys’ 47, 44 and 16-yard lines on those first three drives.
Sandwiched in between both aerial scores was a 33-yard touchdown run from Mudie, who later electrified the crowd with a 38-yard run before the close of the first quarter in which Mudie was trapped in the backfield, but broke five tackles en route to the long scamper.
St. Francis added a 19-yard field goal from Austin Alfieri with 11:05 left in the second quarter to lead, 24-0, before Chino finally responded with a 33-yard field from Steven Orozco.
Each team left points in the first half as Orozco and Alfieri both missed field goals.