High School Sports

Owens leads Arroyo Grande to football playoff win over St. Francis

LA CAÑADA FLINTRIDGE — Garrett Owens did it on offense. Then he did it on defense. He even did it on special teams.

Arroyo Grande High’s receiver/cornerback/kicker caught a touchdown pass, returned an interception for a touchdown and kicked two field goals to lead the visiting Eagles to a 49-28 victory over St. Francis in the quarterfinals of the CIF-Southern Section Western Division.

“What can I say that hasn’t been said about the kid,” Arroyo Grande coach Tom Goossen said. “He’s a remarkable athlete and I’m glad he’s on our side.”

The Eagles (11-1) were trailing 28-27 with less than 10 minutes left in the fourth quarter when Owens sparked a defense-led turnaround. Arroyo Grande forced three straight St. Francis turnovers and made the Golden Knights pay for each one of them.

St. Francis quarterback Jared Lebowitz had a forgettable three drives. His pass was intercepted by Owens, who returned it 32 yards for a touchdown. The Eagles converted the two-point conversion after and regained a touchdown advantage.

Eight plays later, Lebowitz dropped back again and appeared to be on his way to being sacked. Before he hit the ground, Eagles linebacker Seth Jacobs yanked the ball out of the quarterback’s hands and returned the fumble 55 yards for the score.

All hope wasn’t lost until Lebowitz’s very next snap, when he was intercepted again, this time by Tyler Auerbach. Arroyo Grande scored five plays later on a 4-yard run by Henry Adelman, capping a fourth quarter in which the Eagles outscored the Golden Knights 25-0.

“We talked all year on winning the turnover battle and taking care of the football,” St. Francis coach Jim Bonds said. “Against a team as a good as Arroyo Grande, obviously, you can’t turn the ball over the way we did in the fourth quarter.”

Owens scored two touchdowns, kicked two field goals and three PATs to lead Arroyo Grande. His two field goals were from 50 and 27 yards, and he caught a 33-yard touchdown pass from Brent VanderVeen in the second quarter.

St. Francis (9-3) built an early 14-9 lead thanks to two touchdown passes from Lebowitz. He found Gordon Grbavac for a 7-yard score and then connected with a Christian Hess for an 80-yarder.

But the Eagles regained the lead before halftime thanks to Owens’ receiving touchdown and a 2-yard touchdown run by Gabe Deleon.

St. Francis took back the lead again in the third quarter thanks to two scores by Lebowitz — a 4-yard pass to Tyler Talianko and 1-yard quarterback sneak.

“We kind of got back in rhythm early in the third quarter,” Bonds said.

But then came the fourth-quarter turnovers and the end of the Golden Knights’ chances.

“Our defense was on the ropes a little bit for most of the game, but when it mattered most they showed a lot of pride and discipline, came back and got the job done,” Goossen said.

Lebowitz led St. Francis with three touchdowns and 280 yards on 20-of-35 passing. But those three fourth-quarter turnovers were too much for St. Francis to overcome.

“We knew Arroyo Grande was a heck of a team,” Bonds said. “They’re a very well-coached, physical team.”

VanderVeen finished 15-of-23 for 195 yards and one touchdown. Adelman led the Eagles on the ground with 97 yards on 17 carries.

Arroyo Grande will host Chaminade in the section semifinals Friday.

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