All season long, Garrett Giovannelli has had one goal in mind: taking the San Luis Obispo High football team deep into the CIF-Southern Section playoffs.
With a performance like the one he turned in Friday night, that goal may become a reality.
Giovannelli had 19 carries for 119 yards and two touchdowns and threw for 116 yards and two touchdowns as the Tigers defeated visiting Atascadero 31-14 on homecoming night.
The win lifted San Luis Obispo (6-3, 4-1 PAC 7) into a three-way tie for first place with Arroyo Grande and St. Joseph going into next week’s regular-season finales.
“He showed his true colors,” Tigers coach David Kelley said. “He showed that he is a competitor, a warrior. He took some shots tonight and didn’t slow down a lick.”
Giovannelli made his presence felt from the opening kickoff, which he returned 56 yards to the Greyhounds 35-yard line. Three plays later, he ran 26 yards to the end zone for the opening score of the game.
“Running the ball, it’s what we do, and it really worked out tonight,” Giovannelli said. “We found the holes and executed on offense. As a team we played really well tonight.”
Nate Greenelsh, who had a 70-yard touchdown nullified on a chop block in the second quarter, finished with 26 yards on five carries, Riley Humphrey had 25 yards rushing and a 24-yard touchdown catch from Giovannelli with under two minutes left in the first half and Cole Bradley had 20 yards on five carries for San Luis Obispo. The Tigers finished with 212 rushing yards to 82 for Atascadero.
The Tigers led 7-0 after the first quarter and 21-7 at halftime.
Jordan Knauer and Parker Lauritzen each had an interception for San Luis Obispo, and Lauritzen had a 20-yard touchdown catch from Giovannelli that gave the Tigers a 28-7 lead midway through the third quarter.
The Greyhounds (4-5, 2-3) were coming off a dramatic 28-24 victory over St. Joseph a week before, with quarterback Robbie Berwick throwing the game-winning touchdown with under a minute remaining.
Berwick finished 14 for 18 for 179 yards, with one touchdown and two interceptions in the loss.
“That one stabbed us in the heart a little bit,” Berwick said. “We had a lot of let down. I think we could have done a lot of things different.
“Our defense did a great job. We didn’t capitalize on what we should have capitalized on, and it was really tough.”
Atascadero also lost two fumbles and committed nine penalties for 105 yards. The Tigers did not commit a turnover but were penalized 12 times for 105 yards.
Tigers linebacker and reigning PAC 7 Defensive Player of the Year Jack Ferguson, who was all over the field shutting down the Atascadero running game, had nothing but praise for Giovannelli after the game.
“He can do it all,” Ferguson said. “The thing that I don’t think people respect too much is he will stick his head down and get that extra yardage. He’s not afraid of anyone. It’s not something you see from a quarterback every day.”