St. Joseph's offense did a lot Friday night, and its defense did enough.

The Knights racked up 49 points, their defense contained Studio City Harvard-Westlake's big-play quarterback, Jameson Wang, in the second half and the Knights edged the Wolverines 49-44 at St. Joseph's Jay Will Stadium in the first round of the CIF Southern Section Division 5 Playoffs.

St. Joseph (7-4) will play at top seed Lancaster Paraclete next Friday night in the divisional semifinals. Kickoff is tentatively set for 7:30 p.m. The Spirits blanked Ventura 42-0 in a first-rounder Friday evening.

Harvard-Westlake finished 8-3. The Wolverines finished third in the Marmonte League. The Knights were the Los Padres League runners-up.

"We saw them on film, saw how their quarterback could make plays and we knew we were going to have to put up a lot of points," said St. Joseph center Alex Ontiveros.

The kicking game helped make the difference for the Knights. St. Joseph sophomore Brock Marcois, who has had a big year, delivered again Friday night. He was seven-for-seven on PAT kicks.

Meanwhile, St. Joseph's Zak Wilson and Zachary Morris charged through Harvard-Westlake's blocking scheme after Wang hit Thomas Glover with a 20-yard touchdown pass to pull the Wolverines within 28-20 in the second quarter, and the Knights blocked Jeremy Yariv's PAT try.

The Wolverines went for two after their next three touchdowns and failed each time.

The Knights seemed to have the game locked up when quarterback Dino Mandonado capped a 73-yard drive with a one-yard touchdown run to make it 49-38 with 1:03 left to play.

Wang responded by connecting with Cameron Jones for a 37-yard touchdown with 12.5 seconds left, but Yariv's PAT try went wide. Devin Guggia recovered Yariv's subsequent onside kick for St. Joseph.

Ontiveros helped lead the charge as the Knights opened up holes up the middle for Vargas after intermission, and Vargas responded with hard running for big yardage. He scored from nine and two yards out in the fourth quarter.

"We just block for Jayden, and he makes it right for us," said Ontiveros.

The Knights, who trailed 32-28 when the fourth quarter started, scored on all three of their fourth quarter drives.

Wang ran for 129 yards in the first half. The Knights kept him to a total of 28 yards on 10 carries in the second.

"We wanted to make him hand the ball off in the second half," said St. Joseph coach Jim Chvala.

Wang did hand the ball off a lot after halftime, mainly to Jake Kelly. Kelly gave the Wolverines productive running, but it wasn't quite enough.

The Knights' defense gave their team a lift when they stopped Wang just short of a first down on fourth-and-three on the first possession of the second half.

"Our defensive coach, Ryan Labastida, made some good adjustments," said Chvala.

On St. Joseph's first three possessions, Maldonado hit Joseph Miller for a 54-yard touchdown pass, connected with Mike Ramirez for 24 yards and another score and bolted 44 yards for a touchdown after suckering the Wolverines with a fake handoff to Vargas.

Will Goldberg scooped up a St. Joseph fumble and ran 10 yards for a score to pull the Wovlerines within 21-14, and it was anyone's game after that.

Maldonado threw for three scores. He hit Nate Guzman for a 37-yarder and St. Joseph's last touchdown of the first half. Maldonado finished with 191 yards passing.

He did throw one interception, which the Wolverines converted into a go-ahead score when Wang went in from the 1 to make it 32-28. 

Vargas ran for 196 yards. Wang wound up throwing 182 yards and four touchdowns.  

Hancock College Sports Information Director Andrew Masuda contributed to this report.


Sports Reporter