Knights lose playoff heartbreaker

Football: St. Francis' final drive falls short in CIF Southern Section Western Division first-round loss to No. 2 seed Dominguez.

November 24, 2010|By Grant Gordon,

COMPTON — As it showed throughout the season, the St. Francis High football team could play with the very best in the CIF Southern Section Western Division.

But in a game brimming with big plays, the Golden Knights came up one last big play short.

Though the tandem had terrorized host Dominguez all night long, one last pass from Brett Nelson to Travis Talianko was no to be. A fourth-and-18 attempt by Nelson from the Golden Knights' 48-yard line was low and bounced from the grasp of Talianko to secure a 28-25 win for the second-seeded Dons in the opening round of the Western Division playoffs on Friday night.

"I think that's probably true," said St. Francis Coach Jim Bonds of his team's ability to hang with the division's best, only to come up just short, summing up much of the season. "I think we're right there with all four of those teams.


"I think we're right there."

Dominguez (10-1) was held on fourth and 11 from the St. Francis 31 with 3:13 left to set up the Golden Knights' final drive.

It was a final drive that began chaotically, as the Dons were late getting to the line and an opportunistic St. Francis offense looked out of sync, snapping the ball early. Nonetheless, Nelson found an open Christian Hess, but the pass was bobbled.

Five plays later and St. Francis' season was over at 6-5 — with losses to top-seeded Serra, third-seeded Chaminade and fourth–seeded Paso Robles included.

"It was kind of happening in slow motion," Bonds said of the last drive's final play. "[We] would have liked to have that last drive to do over again. But unfortunately, you don't get to do that."

The loss certainly wasn't for lack of a fight, as the Golden Knights rallied from 21-10 and 28-17 second-half deficits.

Nelson passed for 275 yards and three touchdowns, all to Talianko, on 16 of 27 passing. He also fought through two tacklers for a two-point conversion run that made the score 28-25 with 8:27 left in the game.

"I thought Brett played his best game of the year in the biggest game of the year," Bonds said. "I'm very proud of him."

Nelson hooked up with Talianko on touchdowns of 25, 25 and five yards. Talianko had eight receptions for 166 yards, despite a steady stream of double teams.

"He found ways to get open," Bonds said.

But St. Francis found itself playing from behind from the start, as Dominguez' double wing offense tallied 480 total yards, including 320 on the ground.

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