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Season slips away in fourth

Football: St. Francis enters final quarter with lead, but suffers playoff loss to Arroyo Grande.

November 26, 2011|By Grant Gordon,

LA CAÑADA FLINTRIDGE — In a game rife with overwhelming momentum swings, it appeared early on in Friday night's CIF Southern Section Western Division quarterfinal game that whichever team had the momentum last would move on to the semifinals.

That team, in resounding fashion, was visiting Arroyo Grande High.

Underneath an avalanche of misfortune in the fourth quarter — one in which it had four turnovers and relinquished 25 points — St. Francis' football season came to a conclusion after a 49-28 loss at Friedman Field against second-seeded Arroyo Grande.

"The wheels just absolutely fell off in the fourth quarter," said St. Francis Coach Jim Bonds, whose team entered the final stanza with a 28-24 lead after scoring 14 straight points to open the second half.

But after an Arroyo Grande field goal drew the game within one, the Golden Knights' final four possessions ended in turnovers — with three leading to scores, two coming directly on the takeaways and the last leading to a couple of kneel downs to seal the game.


"Just mistakes," said senior linebacker/receiver Ryan McAleenan of what swung the game in the end. "Mistakes got us."

St. Francis (9-3), which was looking to advance to the semifinals for the first time since 2005, saw Arroyo Grande (11-1), win its 11th straight game amid a flurry of momentum started when Garrett Owens returned a Jared Lebowitz interception 31 yards along the far sideline for the go-ahead score with 8:49 to play in the game.

On the very next drive, Lebowitz was sacked and stripped by Seth Jacobs, who returned the fumble 56 yards with 5:19 remaining to go up, 42-28.

Then on the very next St. Francis play from scrimmage, Arroyo Grande notched an interception that led to a 32-yard scoring drive and an insurmountable 49-28 advantage with 2:58 to play.

"It was like slow motion," said Bonds of the disastrous ¿ turn of events. "That's just too well-coached of a football team to make those mistakes."

Lebowitz was very much emblematic of his team on Friday, as he shined bright at times, but also struggled. He finished the day with 282 yards passing, completing 20 of 35 passes for three touchdowns and three interceptions. He also ran for 39 yards and a score in seven carries and lost a fumble. Thus, in all, he had four total touchdowns and four total turnovers.

"I feel bad for Jared," Bonds said. "I'm sure he's feeling there's a lot of this on his shoulders, but there's a lot you don't see with the naked eye."

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