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St. Francis High football stays undefeated with victory

Football: Golden Knights improve to 4-0 with 34-16 nonleague win against Damien.

September 27, 2013|By Andrew Shortall, andrew.shortall@latimes.com
  • St. Francis' quarterback Ty Gangi beats a tackle to run for a first down against Damien in the first half of a nonleague football game at Friedman Field on Friday night. St. Francis defeated Damien, 34-16. (Tim Berger/Staff Photographer)
St. Francis' quarterback Ty Gangi beats a tackle…

Three games into the season and the St. Francis High football team was still waiting for its first real challenge. It finally arrived in the form of visiting Damien.

Even so, the scoreboard didn’t show the Golden Knights were tested Friday night at Friedman Field. At times, St. Francis’ offense sputtered, but its defense was always there to help anchor a 34-16 nonleague victory over the visiting Spartans.

PHOTOS: St. Francis vs. Damien non-league football

“It was a hard-fought game, I don’t know how indicative the score is of the battle we had out there tonight,” St. Francis Coach Jim Bonds said.

“It’s good for it to be a close game like that and to be able to come out on top. We battled through some adversity.”

St. Francis (4-0) held a 20-6 halftime lead, but watched it dwindle down to four with 14 minutes left to play in the game. Offensively, the Knights slowed down considerably in the second half and were held to a fumble and three punts in their first four possessions after the break.

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As a result, Damien (2-2) pulled to within 20-16 with two minutes left in the third quarter on a 40-yard field goal from Tristan Vizcaino, who also connected on 31- and 35-yard kicks in the first half.

St. Francis mounted a 10-play drive in response, but it stalled at Damien’s 38 and forced a punt that went for a touchback and gave the Spartans a chance to take their first lead since they led, 3-0, in the opening quarter.

Damien wound up going backward, thanks to St. Francis defensive lineman Marko Tinco. On second-and-nine, the senior sacked the Spartan quarterback for a nine-yard loss at the 12. He followed that with another nine-yard sack at the 3 that forced a Damien punt from its own end zone and gave the Knights the ball 23 yards away from a score with 8:16 to play.

It was a coming-out sequence for Tinco, who didn’t even start last week’s game.

“During practice, I sort of got more reps and today before we went out our defensive line coach said I was going to be starting today,” said Tinco, who finished with three sacks for a total loss of 26 yards. “It felt great; honestly, I am just so happy right now. I know I’m not going to play on after high school, so I am just soaking it up and loving every minute of it.”

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