East County Sports

Everything goes against wary Eagles




EastCountySports.com staff report



FLINTRIDGE —- Life on the road can be difficult, especially when you’re playing your 11 players against an opponent with 15 on the field.

Mysterious penalty calls at every key moment of the fourth quarter resulted in 21 points for St. Francis over the final 10 minutes, allowing the host Golden Knights to knock off Granite Hills, 34-25, in Friday’s (Oct. 8) final non-league contest fo both programs.

The Eagles, which finally found a way to travel to Los Angeles County for their second straight long, long road trip in as many weeks, carried a 19-13 advantage into the final period.

Then fun with the flags wasn’t anything but funny for floundering Granite Hills.

Included was a grounding penalty which took the Eagles out of field goal range, with St. Francis (5-1) taking the ball back and marching 74 yards for the go-ahead score.

The ensuing kickoff was returned 97 yards by Mikey Birkenbach for an apparent touchdown to reclaim the lead.

However, a holding penalty nullified what would have been the second-longest runback in school history.

However, the referees ruled the holding infraction came at the 26-yard line, but replays clearly indicated there were no Eagles anywhere near the 26 until Birkenbach was long gone.

The Golden Knights would score on their next possession for an 8-point lead, but Granite Hills  (4-3) continued to fight.

Eagles quarterback Domenico Tomasello completed consecutive long passes to motor down the field.

Sophomore receiver Isaiah Hasten hauled in a 45-yard pass for a third-down conversion. On the next snap, Joaquin Thomas Jr. got behind double coverage to collect a 23-yard scoring pass.

However, the Eagles were called for a dead-ball foul for unsportsmanlike conduct — replays showed the celebration, which included a spontaneous spiking of the ball, was no more or less than any other score in the contest — so a potential game-tying, 2-point conversion attempt came from the 18-yard line. On a scramble, the pass was intercepted.

Later, Granite Hills was burned for a kickoff infraction, giving St. Francis the ball just outside of the red zone. Six plays later, the hosts had their third touchdown in a span of 5:37.

“Eleven penalties called on us to one penalty on the home team,” Granite Hills head coach Kellan Cobbs said. “Funny thing is, the same thing happened to Steele Canyon up here last week.”

On defense for the Eagles, Jordan Glaze was in on nine tackles, including a trio of solo stops in the fourth quarter.

“Our entire team played a great game all around so there were a lot of positives that came out of the game on both offense and defense that we can take into the game with Grossmont (next Friday),” Tomasello said. “We are going to work even hard to show the Hillers the full potential of Granite Hills football.”

After St. Francis took a 6-0 lead, Granite Hills answered right back with consecutive scores.

Jaquayle Hodges hauled in a 16-yard pass from Tomasello for a 7-6 lead to cap the first quarter. On the next drive, the Eagles’ starting quarterback on this night, Parlan Sanders, rumbled 31 yards up the middle on a designed draw for a 13-6 lead.

“Having both Sanders and I at the quarterback position gives our offense a wide spread of opportunities to put points on the board,” Tomasello said. “We both bring tools to the offense that contribute to use being that much better.”

St. Francis would move even, but late in the half, Parlan found a wide-open Hasten for a 17-yard connection and a 19-13 lead.

“Hasten played a great game tonight and has become a huge asset,” Cobbs said.

The Golden Knights had a chance to regain the lead on the final play before intermission. However, three Eagles defenders rocked the QB for a sack, with tackle Zach Burton clearing out the pile to force a fumble which Granite Hills recovered.

There was no scoring in the third period.

The two Granite Hills quarterbacks combined to throw for nearly 200 yards and three touchdowns.

“Both quarterbacks played well,” Cobbs said. “Not only with their throwing but also some great rushes, as well.”

The Eagles’ team of QBs nearly equaled St. Francis’ heralded signal caller Jack Jacobs.

Jacobs completed 20 of 28 passes for 238 yards passing and two touchdowns through the air to go with one on the ground.

“I’m in a quarterback room with two other great ones (Tomasello and Lance Rodgers),” Sanders said. “The only way we can succeed is if our team is working together. I’m happy that we have a family here.”

The Golden Knights’ first drive was stopped when senior running back Max Garrison, a San Diego State commit, fumbled at the Eagle 3.

Garrison finished with 87 yards on 17 carries and two touchdowns.

“We figured out what we were doing wrong,” Jacobs said. “At the end of the day, I’m just proud of my guys for putting it all together.”

The Eagles were almost forced to cancel their trip to face St. Francis, which had scheduled its Homecoming for the game night, due to the unavailability of a charter bus trip.

The Golden Knights offered to send their own buses to pick up the Eagles, as reported by media outlets, however, Cobbs said that his program had found a company to make the round-trip in time to make the contest.


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