St. Francis football coach Dean Herrington described running back Devyn Turner as special. Turner showed why as he rushed for 211 yards, scored two touchdowns and helped the Golden Knights on their final drive hold off Villa Park in a 35-28 win on Friday night in the CIF-Southern Section Division 5 quarterfinals.
St. Francis (9-3) will make its second straight appearance in the CIF semifinals and will host Aquinas next week.
“When (Turner) has been in the lineup, we’ve won most of our games,” Herrington said. “(Quarterback) Jack Jacobs was fabulous tonight too. Our offense is tough to stop right now. We’re playing really well.”
The Golden Knights were up 35-21 late in the fourth quarter when Villa Park (6-6) took over at the Golden Knights 37 following a punt. The Spartans drove down to the 5 and scored when quarterback Nate Lewis hit Jeremiah Leftwich for a touchdown pass in the middle of the end zone.
The Golden Knights were able to recover the onside kick at their own 47. Villa Park though had all three timeouts remaining. But Turner then took over. He rushed for 14 yards on the first play and 5 on the second. Villa Park used its first timeout with just under two minutes left.
Turner then took a handoff and broke a tackle at the line of scrimmage and cut right for a 31-yard gain that set up St. Francis at the Villa Park 3. The Golden Knights were then able to run out the clock.
Jacobs completed 8 of 15 passes for 148 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed for 52 yards on eight carries and even caught a touchdown pass in the first quarter.
The Golden Knights were able to answer Villa Park’s touchdowns on their very next possession each time except for the last, though St. Francis opted to take a knee to end the game.
When Villa Park cut a 21-7 halftime lead to 21-14 early in the third quarter, St. Francis answered when Jacobs hit Jett McCullough for a 21-yard touchdown pass to take a 28-14 lead. When the Spartans cut the St. Francis lead to 28-21 early in the fourth, St. Francis answered right away when Turner took a toss and ran up the middle for a 17-yard score.
St. Francis started the game with trickery on the first offensive play. Jacobs took the snap and faked a handoff on an end around from the left then faked a second handoff on an end around coming from the right. He then saw a wide open Hank Foley streaking down the right sideline and hit him for a 67-yard touchdown strike and a quick 7-0 lead.
The Golden Knights got the ball back at their 19 after forcing a Spartan punt. St. Francis then drove to the Villa Park 14. Jacobs then handed the ball off to Turner who then gave it to McCullough on the reverse. McCullough ran right and patiently waited for Jacobs to run toward the right corner. He then fired the ball to Jacobs who caught it and ran into the end zone for a 14-0 lead with 2:38 left in the first. That ended a nine-play, 81-yard drive.
Villa Park cut the lead to 14-7 early in the second quarter when Carson Ridge scored on a two-yard run to end a 10-play, 78-yard drive.
St. Francis answered on its next drive despite two holding penalties and a personal foul. The Golden Knights faced a first-and-26 at their 43 and eventually converted when Jacobs found DruShun Phillips for a 23-yard slip screen that set the ball up at the Villa Park 30.
The Golden Knights then faced a fourth-and-3 at the 23 when Jacobs lined up under center and handed off to Turner who burst through the hole and cut left for a touchdown run that gave the Golden Knights a 21-7 lead.
Turner finished the first half with 91 yards on eight carries.
The Golden Knights held the potent Spartan ground attack to 93 yards in the first half. The St. Francis defense came up big toward the end of the second quarter when it forced Villa Park into a fouth-and-3 at the Golden Knights 37. Spartans quarterback Nate Lewis rushed a throw over-the-middle on a slant that fell incomplete.
Villa Park was led by running back Carter Christie. He rushed for 133 yards on 19 carries. Lewis completed 15 of 22 passes for 153 yards on one touchdown pass. He also scored on a one-yard quarterback sneak.