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Top seed Lompoc too strong for St. Francis

St. Francis Knights' slim upset hopes put out in second half by host Lompoc.

November 09, 2012|By Grant Gordon, grant.gordon@latimes.com

LOMPOC — Already faced with the daunting task of taking down a No. 1 seed with a 30-game winning streak, consecutive division titles in its back pocket and an overwhelming home field advantage, the St. Francis High football team’s chances of an upset of Lompoc on Friday night got inherently worse just 12 seconds into the game when Braves kick returner Taylor Cornejo streaked 90 yards for a score.

But as bad a start as it was to the game for the Golden Knights, it was the second-half onset that truly was the turning point. St. Francis, trailing by 14, could do nothing offensively on the first drive and then allowed a 55-yard scoring run by Lompoc’s Nikko Hayes, one of a cavalcade of talented backs who poured it on in the second half, as the Braves ran away with a 42-7 victory in the opening round of the CIF Southern Section Western Division playoffs.

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“They kept pressing, it’s a great team. You gotta give them credit,” said St. Francis Coach Jim Bonds, whose team finished its season at 4-7 after receiving an at-large bid into the playoffs out of the Mission League. “They got horses.”

Lompoc (11-0), the Los Padres League champion, rushed for 238 of its 289 total yards with three runners gaining more than 50 yards behind a mammoth offensive line that looked to wear down the undersized Golden Knights.

“They were able to push us around up front with their size,” Bonds said.

Averaging 45 points a game coming into Friday’s game, the Braves have been an offensive juggernaut, but Bonds was more impressed with the defense, which was big, mean and nasty and had allowed less than seven points per game coming in and never given up more than 14 in a contest.

“I was probably more impressed with their size and skill on defense,” said Bonds, whose offense totaled just 179 yards. “It was hard to find holes in that defense.”

Cornejo found a hole up the right sideline to open the game with his return for a score. Following the return and a St. Francis punt, Lompoc flexed its muscle on its first offensive drive. Running back Lavon Coleman (17 carries for 83 yards and two touchdowns) capped a methodical eight-play, 56-yard march with a five-yard touchdown for a 14-0 lead with 6:11 to go in the first quarter.

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