Serra won the first half decisively; and St. Francis won the second half decisively. Fortunately for Cavalier alums who showed up for the 60th homecoming, Serra won the first half more decisively than the Golden Knights won the second.
The first two series were unmemorable. On their its second possession, Anterio Bateman got the edge and no one from La Canada could catch him. Serra up 7-0 with 8:52 remaining in the first quarter.
The Golden Knights came right back with 13-play drive featuring two third-and-long and one fourth-and-long pass completions that kept the drive alive. 7-7 at 2:20 in the first. Neither team had made a real statement.
On the next series, Serra sputtered but managed to keep possession through 5 plays, then Jalen Green ran a perfect quarterback draw, sixty five yards up the middle, untouched, for a touchdown. Eddie Garcia kicked the extra point, and Serra was again up by seven with 11 minutes remaining in the half. That's when the Knights turned not-so-golden.
They went three and out. Serra went three, but not out. A weird short punt land on one of the Knight linemen, and Serra fell on the ball, at the Knights' 28. Serra, still misfiring on one out of three plays, moved the ball to the four on a beautiful pass and catch. It took two tries, but Serra scored a third time at 5:24.
The Cavalier offense was still a little cranky, but it looked like what they had was sufficient unto the day. Five minutes passed. A few weird plays and at least one weird call, but no change. With a minute left, Serra set up on the Knights' 40 after a short punt. Three plays later, Greene threw a back-shoulder rainbow to Raymond Ford, who out fought the Knight defender right on his shoulder and then stretched as he went down, to score Serra's fourth touchdown with 15.2 seconds remaining in the half.
The Knights picked up a low kickoff and started straight up the middle. Malik Robertson smashed the ball carrier like a bug, and Serra recovered the consequent fumble. Seven seconds left. Eddie Garcia ran in and kicked a 25 yard field goal to end the half on a jubilant note.
The half-time ceremony was all fun and games. Alums standing up and being applauded once, then twice, then three times. An impressive homecoming court introduced to a happy crowd, coronation of king and queen, they riding around the track in a horse drawn carriage right out of Disney, then a Disney-quality fireworks show, and finally a dance show that came close to drawing a delay-of-game flag. That's when the Knights almost got their gold back.
Serra got the opening kickoff and moved backwards. St. Francis got the ball on the Serra 45. They immediately moved to the Serra three on a good pass to a wide open receiver. The Knights scored on the next play, seventeen seconds after they took possession. Not a good sign, but, we said in the stands, nothing to worry about.
After an exchange of punts, the Cavs restored the half time seven play drive ending with another touchdown run right through the middle of the St. Francis defense. 38-14. That's when the party ended for the Cav fans and the nail biting began.
In reality, the Cavs had done well against the run all night, but success against the pass was mostly owing to dropped or misthrown balls. St. Franks suddenly found its passing attack, and discovered in the process that Serra had been playing without a pass defense. With a minute left in the third, SF closed the gap with a thirty yard strike down the far hash marks to a wide-open receiver. The Knights scored two additional points on a good roll-out run. 38-22, with a full quarter left to play.
As it turned, until the last thirty seconds, the best Serra could do in the fourth quarter was run the clock a little. St. Francis, passing at will it seemed, scored on another pass to a very open receiver at 7:53. Then again added two points on an excellent catch, closing the gap to eight points. 38-30.
Serra kept the ball for three minutes but aborted a promising drive with a fumble at its own 45. On St. Frank's second down, Serra dodged a bullet with a pass to another open receiver was dropped. Sweat and rapid heart beat. The Cav defense stiffened, and in what must have been a close call, St. Francis decided to punt with 2:46 remaining in the game.
Anterio Bateman and the offensive line took advantage. Bateman ran five times using up clock. With 39 seconds left, Bateman turned a clock-killing sweep to the right into a twenty-five yard touchdown run. The extra point try went wide, but thankfully the Fat Lady was ready to sing.