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Knights take down Paramount

Football: St. Francis notches 45-28 first-round Western Division victory on the road against league champ.

November 19, 2011|By Gabriel Rizk, gabriel.rizk@latimes.com

PARAMOUNT — The challenges will undoubtedly only get tougher going forward, but for one night, the St. Francis High football team was able to bask in the aftermath of a convincing first playoff win, 45-28, over host Paramount in the opening round of the CIF Southern Section Western Division playoffs Friday night.

"It feels great. Last year we lost in the first round of the playoffs and I've never had a home game on Thanksgiving [weekend] so it's going to be nice," said Golden Knights senior running back Luke Anderson, who rushed for three touchdowns on the night. "We really wanted to run the ball on them, the run game is our thing, but we passed the ball well today, too, so we're really coming together."

St. Francis rushed for 237 yards, led by Austin De Los Santos' 72 in 15 carries, and saw quarterback Jared Lebowitz pass for 145 yards and three touchdowns. Defensively, St. Francis turned in another fine performance, holding the Pirates to 222 total yards and limiting them to just two offensive plays greater than 20 yards.

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"We felt like we could move the ball on them and just mix it up," said St. Francis Coach Jim Bonds, whose team (9-2) will face Arroyo Grande at 7:30 p.m. at home on Friday. "I thought our quarterback managed the game very well and [did well] throwing the ball, but I thought our run game was pretty open most of the night. We got really good push from our guys up front."

Paramount's offense, which was led by 83 rushing yards from Deonte Dixon and 152 passing yards from quarterback Lamont Odom, couldn't do much over the course of the night to keep the game interesting, but the Golden Knights' sure did, fumbling the ball away on consecutive plays from scrimmage during one hair-raising stretch to open the third quarter.

Leading, 21-7, at halftime, St. Francis saw De Los Santos lose a fumble on the Knights' 40-yard line that Cristian Andrade recovered for the Pirates and returned for a touchdown. After the ensuing kickoff, a bad exchange between Lebowitz and De Los Santos in the backfield ended up on the ground and was recovered by Paramount's Devonte Dixon at the St. Francis 32-yard line. The Pirates cashed in the turnover two plays later on a four-yard run by Devonte Dixon and would have tied the game if not for a missed extra-point attempt.

"The only times we got stopped on offense was when we stopped ourselves," Bonds said. "We scored 45 points and we put the ball on the ground twice. They really never stopped us."

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