Saugus football falls after late surge from Saint Francis

Saugus' Tyler Hampsten (25) brings down St. Francis running back, Elijah Washington (25) for a loss at COC on Friday. Dan Watson/for The Signal

By Jon Stein
For the Signal

Saugus’ Friday night contest against St. Francis turned on a dime in the second quarter, when Centurions quarterback Elijah Gragas, about to be sacked in the end zone, heaved up a floater that was picked off by defensive lineman Zach Kejmar.

The Golden Knights offense took over at the 3-yard line, easily found the end zone two plays later, and opened the floodgates to an eventual 49-20 victory.

“(Field position) means everything,” said Saugus head coach Jason Bornn. “Can’t turn the ball over and give them field position.”

Saugus running back Quinn Sheaffer (24) runs away from defenders to set up a touchdown for Saugus in the first quarter against St. Francis at COC on Friday. Dan Watson/for The Signal

The Centurions (2-3), behind two 1-yard quarterback sneak touchdowns by Gragas, led 14-9 midway through the second quarter before the wheels came off.

St. Francis (4-0) rattled off 33 consecutive points after the interception, aided by two more second-quarter picks from defensive back Richard Godfrey.

The interceptions helped St. Francis dominate the field position battle – as the Golden Knights started around midfield or better on nearly all of their scoring drives.

The second of Godfrey’s two picks came after a risky play call from Saugus late in the second half.

Trailing 28-14, Saugus found itself facing a 2nd-and-9 from its own 21-yard line with less than 20 seconds remaining in the half.

Gragas dropped back to throw and sent the ball deep down the left field sideline where Godfrey made an easy interception and returned the ball 40 yards for a touchdown to put the Golden Knights up 35-14 at halftime.

“I was a little surprised,” said St. Francis head coach Jim Bonds of the decision to throw late in the second quarter. “They’re not going to lay down. They’re going to try to score and our kid made a heck of a play.”

Gragas started for the Centurions after usual starter Nathan Eldridge was injured last week against Ventura.

The senior quarterback looked the part early, leading Saugus to consecutive scoring drives in the first and second quarters, highlighted by a 44-yard completion to running back Quinn Sheaffer.

Gragas finished the game 23-of-39 with 237 yards, one touchdown and four interceptions.

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