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HomeBlocksFront-GridSt. Francis Edged in Championship Game, 45-42

St. Francis Edged in Championship Game, 45-42

First published in the Dec. 1 print issue of the Pasadena Outlook.

The St. Francis High School football team led most of the way in the CIF-Southern Section Division V football championship game, but a disastrous fourth quarter ended up costing the Golden Knights the title.
Etiwanda High of Rancho Cucamonga overcame a 42-24 deficit early in the fourth quarter and rallied to score 21 unanswered points in the game’s final 12 minutes to edge the visiting Golden Knights, 45-42, on Saturday night.
“This is the toughest loss I’ve ever had. We just flat-out choked. We blew it,” said St. Francis coach Dean Herrington, who has over 25 years of coaching experience. “It’s going to be a hard pill to swallow.”
St. Francis (10-4 record), which shared the Angelus League championship during the regular season, had a chance to force overtime in the final seconds, but a potential game-tying field goal was blocked.
“I’m super proud of everybody. We really fought hard in this game even to the last minute,” St. Francis senior quarterback Jack Jacobs said.
The Golden Knights’ defense had limited No. 2-seeded Etiwanda (9-5 record) to nine points in the first half, but the hosts scored a touchdown on all five of their possessions in the second half. The sixth possession was a kneel down to end the contest.
The final quarter opened with Etiwanda scoring on a 65-yard drive that concluded with a two-yard touchdown run by Jaiden Moss. The ensuing two-point conversion attempt failed and the Knights led, 42-30, with 10:57 to go.
Golden Knight John Calmette recovered the Etiwanda onsides kick attempt. Soon after, Jacobs connected with Antonio Merlos for a 23-yard gain to convert a third down-and-19 near midfield. The drive ended when Jacobs was intercepted by Chauncey Davis with St. Francis just outside the red zone.

St. Francis had an outstanding season after winning a share of the Angelus League title and reaching the CIF championship game, but players were dejected after being outscored 21-0 in the final quarter of a three-point loss.

The Eagles than drove the ball 68 yards for another touchdown when Dermaricus Davis threw a seven-yard scoring pass to Jaymiere McDowell. The PAT kick trimmed the Golden Knights’ lead down to five with 3:47 to go.
The Eagles then successfully recovered an onsides kick to retain possession. The hosts soon scored again with Davis throwing a 22-yard touchdown pass to McDowell. Davis, who passed for over 400 yards in the contest, then threw to Jaden Landrum for a two-point conversion and a three-point advantage. Landrum finished with 13 receptions for 182 yards and a touchdown; 141 of those yards and nine of the catches after halftime.
St. Francis then got the ball at the 20-yard line with 1:17 remaining. The Golden Knights worked their way down the field and were at the Etiwanda 26-yard line with five seconds on the clock. Clint Geryak lined up for a potential game-tying 43-yard field goal try, but it was blocked at the line to seal the win for the Eagles.
“Give [Etiwanda] credit,” Herrington said. “They made the plays. They got the onsides kick. You can’t give up 45 points and expect to win and that’s just it.”
Jacobs completed 14 of 27 passes for 225 yards and two interceptions. The senior also rushed for 36 yards on 12 carries, including one touchdown. Merlos had five grabs for 58 yards. Drushun Phillips had four catches for 60 yards. Jett McCullough had two receptions for 74 yards.
Devyn Turner had another huge day in the playoffs, rushing 22 times for 187 yards and five touchdowns, but was limited to 13 yards in the fourth quarter.
Etiwanda started the game with the ball, but on the first snap Davis was intercepted by St. Francis’s Preston Jernegan, who returned the ball 53 yards to the Eagles’ 7-yard line. Three plays later, Turner just broke the goal line from one yard out for a 7-0 advantage 1:40 into the contest.
A 10-play Eagle drive ended with a field goal and, just three plays later, St. Francis answered with a touchdown on a 74-yard run by Turner.
Etiwanda scored a rushing touchdown on the next possession with 2:21 left in the first, but the PAT kick attempt was blocked by Racin Delgatty.
St. Francis was forced to punt on the ensuing possession but got the ball back on an interception by Julian Navarro.
Leading 14-9 after the opening quarter, Jacobs throw an interception early in the second period but, soon after, Phillips recovered an Eagle fumble.
Turner ran for a 23-yard touchdown to cap the next Golden Knight possession.
St. Francis scored again in the final minute of the half when Turner ran it into the end zone from two yards away with a push from Jacobs to help lift the Golden Knights to a 28-9 halftime lead.
Both teams scored two touchdowns in the third quarter. St. Francis opened the half with a seven-play driving, climaxed by Jacobs’ 1-yard touchdown run.
Etiwanda then scored on drives on 80 and then 70 yards, amounting to 15 points on the board.
St. Francis scored on a 14-yard touchdown run by Turner with 37 seconds to go in the quarter. The PAT kick by Geryak pushed the lead to 18, but would end up being the final point of the night for SFHS.
“The kids played hard, and I’m proud about that, but it’s a tough one,” Herrington said.

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