ALPHARETTA — The St. Francis Knights took control of their matchup with Hebron Christian on the opening drive Friday night and never looked back.
St. Francis scored on its first two possessions of the game and the final two of the second half en route to a 41-16 win, handing Hebron its first loss of the season.
“It was good to get that cushion and allow us to make some mistakes, then finish it off in the second half,” St. Francis head coach Brennen Booth said.
St. Francis senior Jonah Huff capped off the opening 55-yard drive with a 2-yard touchdown run. The Knights (3-2) recovered an onside kick and quickly marched down the field for another Huff touchdown, this time from 5 yards out.
After the two quick scores, Hebron’s defense anchored down to force back-to-back turnovers, recovering a fumble and intercepting St. Francis quarterback Joey Roche.
Dropped passes slowed down the Lions’ (2-1) passing attack as it failed to convert on multiple scoring chances in the first half.
Hebron’s lone points in the first half came on 35-yard field goal by junior Trent Dunahoo to cap off a 59-yard drive.
In the final four minutes of the first half, St. Francis’ offense got back on track. Junior A.J. Cummings scored on a 35-yard sweep down the Knights’ sideline to finish a 59-yard scoring drive.
Just a little more than two minutes later, the Knights hit paydirt again as Roche connected with Nathan Walker for a 40-yard touchdown and a 27-3 lead. Walker finished the game with three catches for 101 yards.
Despite the large hole it had dug itself, Hebron didn’t fold in the second half.
The Lions struck first in the second half as Andrew Redman scored on a 54-yard screen pass from Connor Holliday to make it a 27-9 game.
St. Francis responded as Cummings scored on a 60-yard touchdown run on the very next play from scrimmage. Cummings finished the game with 131 yards and two touchdowns on just six carries.
“We finally pitched it a couple times,” Booth said. “And A.J. is a good runner and he can make some moves. He made some moves tonight and got free.”
Still the Lions didn’t go quietly as Holliday led another scoring drive on the next possession.
He connected with Trey Selman for a 28-yard score to cap off a 54-yard drive. Holliday, just a sophomore, finished the day 27 of 53 for 300 yards, an interception and two touchdowns.
The Knights put the game out of reach with a 21-yard touchdown run by Sam Franke with 3:48 left in the game. St. Francis finished the game with 282 yards rushing as a team.
Hebron head coach Kevin Shaffer said he was pleased that his team didn’t quit after getting down early and played until the final whistle.
“Obviously not the outcome we want and we hope for, but it’s great to see the effort,” he said. “You never saw anyone give up and that’s real promising. That’s something to build on.”
ST. FRANCIS 41, HEBRON CHRISTIAN 16
Hebron 0 3 13 0 — 16
St. Francis 13 14 7 7 — 41
ST. FRANCIS: Jonah Huff 2 run (kick failed), 8:50
ST. FRANCIS: Huff 5 run (Daryian Basco kick), 7:29
HEBRON: Trent Dunahoo 32 FG, 6:36
ST. FRANCIS: A.J. Cummings 35 run (Basco kick) 3:29
ST. FRANCIS: Nathan Walker 40 pass from Joey Roche (Basco kick), 1:08
HEBRON: Andrew Redman 54 pass from Connor Holliday (Two-point attempt failed), 6:38
ST. FRANCIS: Cummings 60 yd run (Basco kick), 6:16
HEBRON: Trey Selman 28 pass from Holliday (Dunahoo kick), 4:32
ST. FRANCIS: Sam Franke 18 run (Basco kick), 3:48