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St. Francis Turns Up a Victory

Division III: Golden Knights overcome 11-point deficit with four turnovers and beat Antelope Valley, 47-26.


LANCASTER — A twist of fate, the turn of an ankle, the turn of a game.

All went in the favor of St. Francis High on Friday night in a 47-26 victory over Antelope Valley in the Southern Section Division III quarterfinals at Antelope Valley High.

The Golden Knights (10-2), clinging to their postseason lives, rallied for 32 consecutive points to turn a 26-15 second-half deficit into a semifinal date with Hart next week, a rematch of a semifinal last season.

"Our guys didn't give up," said Coach Jim Bonds. "They fought and fought and fought."

And when quarterback Demetre Booker of Antelope Valley (10-2) went down with an ankle injury in the third quarter, St. Francis delivered the haymaker.

The Golden Knights forced four consecutive turnovers and converted them into 18 points.

"Good teams come through adversity," said quarterback John Sciarra, who completed 18 of 25 for 214 yards and three touchdowns. "It was a whole team contribution."

The Golden Knights were almost unstoppable against a defense that had yielded an average of 170 yards and six points during a 10-game winning streak, out-gaining the Antelopes, 466-367.

Matt Milton rushed for 140 yards and one touchdown in 24 carries, his ninth consecutive 100-yard game and the first allowed by the Antelopes since the opener.

Brett Mitchell caught nine passes for 105 yards and two touchdowns, one on a circus catch in the end zone.

Nathan Terrazone added five catches, including a 21-yard touchdown, and caught two two-point conversion passes.

Lineman Bobby Garafalo, 6-feet-4 and 295 pounds, even got in on the act, rumbling 66 yards for a touchdown on a fumblerooski play.

But until Booker's injury, Antelope Valley was just as unstoppable. The teams traded leads five times.

But the Antelopes couldn't recover after Booker suffered a torn ligament and sprained an ankle early in the second half.

Booker scored on a five-yard run moments earlier for a 26-15 lead but was injured on St. Francis' next drive when he collided with teammate Jerome Eason.

"We said all year long that we'd ride him as far as he would take us, and we did," said Coach Brent Newcomb, whose third-seeded team won 10 consecutive games and the Golden League championship.

St. Francis never doubted itself.

"We were in it all the way," Milton said. "We just got on our horse and rode it to the end."

Booker attempted to come back in the fourth quarter with his team trailing, 40-26, hobbling on and off the field with help from teammates. But it was too late and he was ineffective.

Eason caught five passes for 162 yards, including a 77-yard touchdown.

Johnny Walker, who later replaced Booker at quarterback, caught an 18-yard touchdown pass to help the Antelopes take a 19-15 halftime lead.

The Golden Knights face Hart at a site to be determined, playing against the two-time defending division champion and the team that has eliminated them the last two seasons.

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