By Michael DUMANSKY
As the 2019 St. Francis football season started, so did many questions on how new starting quarterback Jack Clougherty was going to perform in his varsity debut. Though experienced, the Golden Knights were nervous as was evident in the first couple of drives when they weren’t able to advance. The defense wasn’t able to stop Mira Costa’s poised offense as the Mustangs scored early in the first quarter to make it 7-0. After the pregame jitters and nervousness wore off, the Golden Knights were able to establish their run and pass game in the second quarter.
St. Francis got on the board with a three-yard touchdown by running back Kevin Armstead in the second quarter to even the score at 7. The Golden Knights wouldn’t score again until the 7:48 p.m. mark when Clougherty found tight end Evan Jernegan on a 27-yard heave to take the lead 14-7.
“We just established the run and opened up the pass and our running backs did a good job, our o-line blocked well for the pass game and our receivers did a heck of a job getting open,” said Colughery.
Mira Costa’s offense would come surging back and scored 14 straight points to frustrate the St. Francis offense.
The Golden Knights struck back with Clougherty hitting tight end Tanner Tomko with the 23-yard reception. Although the Knights were able to get the sure six points, they missed the extra point opportunity leaving the team down by one with 1:25 in the half.
As Mira Costa was looking to extend the lead they were halted when sophomore defensive back Mayze Bryant intercepted with 55 seconds left to play in the half. The Golden Knights then took a 32-21 lead with a 37-yard run with 4.7 seconds left.
But it wasn’t until the fourth quarter that the game was determined. Both teams shut each other out in the third with lockdown defense.
The Mustangs were beginning to drive late in the fourth quarter with 7:00 minutes left to play when the play of the game came from defensive back Bryson Reeves. This play sealed the deal for St. Francis and earned them the win in week one.
“You know it felt really good. I didn’t have the best first half on defense and I sat there at halftime and told myself I need to get my head back on. I eventually did; I had a great second half on offense and defense,” said Reeves about his game winning interception.
St. Francis will travel to Damien High School in La Verne on Sept. 6. The Golden Knights’ next home will be against Westlake High School on Sept. 13.
Photos provided by Jared TADAYON