Hebron shut down by St. Francis

Hunter Johnson

Hunter Johnson

DACULA -- After a 60-point outburst last week against Cross Keys, Hebron Christian looked to carry that momentum into a Homecoming matchup against St. Francis.

Despite another outstanding offensive effort, Hebron (1-2) could not capitalize on several prime scoring opportunities and fell to St. Francis 23-0 Friday night in Dacula.

St. Francis broke on top early. After Garrett Bode staked the Knights to a 7-0 lead on an 8-yard touchdown run midway through the first quarter, the Lions' offensive machine started to roll.

On the ensuing possession, Hebron marched 65 yards to the St. Francis 15. The drive ended when St. Francis' Lance Pecot intercepted a Connor Holliday pass at the goal line to spoil the threat and preserve the Knights' lead.

After forcing a Knights punt the Lions embarked on a long 13-play drive, highlighted by 24-yard run by Hunter Johnson to the Knights' 20. The drive fizzled after Holliday was sacked for a big loss, and the Lions turned the ball over on downs to squander another scoring opportunity.

"We moved the ball up and down the field and couldn't get it in the end zone," said Hebron coach Sal Battaglia, "it happens with a young team. I keep saying that and it's frustrating, but they are young."

After St. Francis extended the lead to 13-0 on a 53-yard TD pass from Joey Roche to Nathan Waller, the Lions again drove deep into Knights' territory. Hebron was again repelled as a fourth-down pass from Holliday was broken up in the end zone just before the half.

Despite remaining scoreless the Lions moved the ball well against the Knights. Running back Hunter Johnson ran wild in the first half, rushing for 101 yards on 17 carries.

"He's a sophomore and he's exciting," said Battaglia, "there are big things ahead for him. He hits the hole very fast and gets up the field and does a really good job. I'm excited for big things from him to come."

Trailing 16-0 after a 42-yard field goal by Brennan Bauschka, the Lions drove inside the Knights 20-yard line for the fourth consecutive drive. On fourth-and-goal at the St. Francis 1-yard line, Johnson was stuffed for a loss to once again end a promising drive.

A 35-yard TD run by Roche early in the fourth quarter capped the scoring for the Knights.

"With a young team you have to learn how to prepare," Coach Battaglia, "then you have to learn how to compete. You have to learn how to win. Then you have to learn how to handle winning. We're still working through that."

Johnson rushed for 136 yards on 25 carries to lead the Lions.