The Holy Innocents’ football team roared into the Elite 8 Friday night using their 2019 blueprint: ball control offense, a stingy defense and dominance at both lines of scrimmage in its 42-3 win over St. Francis at Riverwood.
The quarterfinal advancement ties the Bears farthest in school history. Holy Innocents’ reached the Elite 8 in 2009 and again in 2013. Coach Todd Winter’s team will face Mt. Paran Friday at Riverwood at 7:30 p.m. in hopes of cracking the Final Four for the first time.
Holy Innocents’ set the tempo in the opening quarter Friday, scoring on both of their possessions. The first drive was 82 yards. Michael Cox had impressive runs of 10 and 29 yards which set up a 36-yard touchdown scamper from TyQuann Alexander to make it 7-0.
St. Francis made a move to answer, but Golden Bear Landon Kardian intercepted a Knights pass, giving Holy Innocents’ the ball at their own 29. The Bears needed 11 plays to cover the 71 yards. Cox and quarterback Matt Davis did most of the work on the ground before Cox scored his first of four touchdowns, this one a 15-yard run up the middle to make it 14-0.
St. Francis got on the board in the second quarter. After stopping the Bears on a fourth-and-2 at the Bears 28, the Knights kicked a 27-yard field goal to cut it to 14-3.
From there, however, it was all HI, as the Bears answered with an 80-yard drive that ate up 6:01 and almost all the rest of the half.
The drive was all short and steady runs, with Davis, Jack Felton, Cox and Alexander all getting into the act. Cox finished the drive with a 1-yard run to make it 21-3, a score than held until halftime.
The Bears put 14 more up in the third period before the stanza. Davis and Cox took turns for good gains on the Bears’ first possession. Cox went the final 8 yards into the end zone to make it 28-3 in finishing the 80-yard drive. Cox did all the work in the second march, gaining all 55 yards and capping it off with a 15-yard score to make it 35-3.
Joe Hingson got the last touchdown in the final period. After several solid runs he went the final 4 yards to end the scoring and the game.
Sam Aiken again came up big as one of the leading tacklers and with several tackles for losses. Hunter Hawk, Griffin McKinnis, William Willis, Kardian, and Moreland Bell were among those who stepped up.
Hawk put in a fine effort despite injuring his ankle on the game’s first play.