ALPHARETTA, Ga. — For the first time in school history, St. Francis has bragging rights over Mount Paran Christian. The Knights (5-3, 4-2) won 42-25 over the Eagles in the late season Region 6-A matchup, their first win in four attempts against the school.
Senior quarterback Josh Gil rushed for one touchdown and nearly 150 yards and passed for three touchdowns and nearly 200 yards. Senior wide receiver Isaiah “Zay” Wadsworth finished with over 150 receiving yards and one touchdown.
“We’re trying to build a program,” said head coach Frank Barden. “We had really good kids and a good foundation laid last year, and this year we were just looking for a signature win. To get that win and get a signature win for our program, that’s big. I’m so proud for St. Francis.”
The St. Francis defense held strong much of the night, and the offense looked like a well-oiled machine from start to finish.
The Knights scored first on a 3-yard touchdown run by senior running back Hunter Jones. The score was set up by a 57-yard pass from Gil to Wadsworth. Early in the second quarter, Gil took a run 41 yards for a touchdown to extend the St. Francis lead.
Mount Paran scored its first points of the night on a 3-yard touchdown run by Alex Lee to put the score at 14-7.
The seven-point margin didn’t last long, however. On the second play of the Knights’ next drive, Jai Smith took a handoff 80 yards for a touchdown, putting the Knights back out in front by two scores. St. Francis carried its 21-7 lead into the half.
The third quarter was a period full of scoring. Mount Paran started out with the ball and added a field goal to make it a 21-10 game.
The Knights responded with a 5-minute, 71 yard drive capped off with a 1-yard touchdown run by Gil.
The Eagles responded on their ensuing drive with a 1-yard touchdown run of their own to bring the score to 28-17, setting up for an exciting finish in the fourth quarter.
Eagles recover the onside kick. Maybe I spoke too soon.— Zach Shugan (@ZachShugan) October 26, 2019
Early in the final period, the Eagles defense gave up one of many big plays to the Gil-Wadsworth duo. This time, Gil evaded the pass rush and was hit as he threw, but not before he found Wadsworth down the sideline for a 57-yard touchdown.
Needing a stop on defense to save any chance at a comeback, the Eagles were unable to contain the Knights offense. On third-and-20 with just over six minutes remaining, Gil pulled off one more trick in the form of a 60-yard touchdown run. Junior kicker Jake Heintzleman hit his sixth extra point of the night, and the Knights went up 42-17.
“I thought the offense played good and [Gil] played well,” Barden said. “The linemen and skill guys played well. The offensive coaches did a great job. I can’t say enough about them. And we have a lot of kids playing both ways, so the same guys that were playing offense had to go over and play defense.”
St. Francis dominated in all phases of the game, and Barden didn’t downplay the significance of the win for the Knights.
“To win against a program like that, it’s big for us,” he said.
St. Francis has one Region 6-A subregion B game at King’s Ridge (1-7, 0-7) before closing out the regular season in the 6-A crossover game Nov 8.