4-game winning streak ends in loss to St. Francis

After rattling off four straight wins, the football team suffered their second loss of the season at the hands of their first Angelus League opponent, St. Francis, losing by a score of 21-7. The team currently holds a 4-2 overall record, and an 0-1 league record.

St. Francis is the top ranked team in the CIF Southern Section Division 5 and had not scored less than 35 points prior to last Friday’s game. The Wolverines’ lone touchdown came on a two-yard run by running back Garrett Robinson ’15.

“Losing to St. Francis was tough, but I was still proud of the team,” linebacker Desmond Butler ’15 said. “St. Francis is supposed to be the class of our league and we went toe-to-toe with them. There’s a lot of good to take away from the game and a lot we still need to work on.”
The defense held the potent St. Francis offense to 23 points below their season average. Going into halftime, the teams were tied at 7 before St. Francis began to pull away.

After surrendering 48 points to archrival Loyola, the defense has allowed an average of only 14 points per game.

“So far I think the season has been going pretty well,” running back Garrett Robinson ’15 said. “With the win over Pali and the close game with St. Francis, I think we’ve seen that we can compete with good teams. I hope that going forward we can make things happen and come home with more victories.”

Butler had his best defensive performance of the season in the team’s 37-21 win over Palisades Charter High School Oct. 2. Butler recorded an interception, forced a fumble and recovered a blocked punt. Defensive end Olan Moon-White ’15 also had a big game against Pali, logging five sacks and scoring a defensive touchdown.

The squad’s four game winning streak included wins over Granada Hills, Pali, Taft and Westchester.
Harvard-Westlake won by more than 16 points in all four games.

“We’ve done really well at communicating and being aggressive to the ball on defense, and have been pretty successful moving the ball offensively,” Butler said.

The team has struggled with committing unnecessary penalties. Against Taft the special teams unit committed three roughing the punters, and against St. Francis the team was flagged for a roughing the passer at a key stage of the game. The roughing the passer call negated an interception by Phillip Smith ’15, which would have put the Wolverines in a position to tie the game at 14 in the third quarter. Instead, St. Francis capitalized on the mental mistake and scored a touchdown to give them a 21-7 lead.

“We just have to play smart, eliminate the unnecessary penalties and capitalize on offense,” Butler said. “I think last [Friday] was positive in that it showed us we can play with anyone in our league. I think we’ll have a lot of success moving forward as long as we do what we are supposed to and give great effort.”

On the offensive side of the ball, the team’s strength has been their running attack, led by Robinson and dual-threat quarterback Marshal Cohen ’16. Through five games, the team has averaged 268 rushing yards per game, 116 of which come from Robinson. Robinson has nine rushing touchdowns on the season. Cohen made his first start of the season against Taft after sitting out 11 months with a knee injury. Ryan Dominick ’17 and Noah Rothman ’16 saw snaps at quarterback during Cohen’s absence.

“I think the running game has been pretty successful because we cause a lot of misdirection and confusion,” Robinson said. “We try to fake defenders out and keep them guessing.”

One of Robinson’s rushing touchdowns came in front of a huge crowd in the team’s 49-9 win over Westchester on Homecoming.

Cohen also added two touchdowns to the offensive output: one through the air to Dominick, and one on the ground with a 15-yard rushing touchdown.

The defense pitched a shutout for more than three quarters and the team was leading by as much as 42 points before giving up a safety late in the game.

“It’s always good to get a win, especially on Homecoming,” Head Coach Scot Ruggles said. “We played hard and I’m very proud of our effort. Defensively we played great, the whole defense was awesome.”

The team will next face La Salle Friday.

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