ROYAL CITY — When you’re riding high on the seventh-longest winning streak in the country, it’s fairly certain you can score in a variety of different ways.
Just when La Salle (4-5) saw a flicker of hope, holding No. 1 ranked Royal to just two first-quarter touchdowns, the Knights (10-0) hit them with special teams, scoring 21 points in three minutes to run away with Friday night’s District 5 1A SCAC Crossover 48-7 at David Nielsen Stadium.
Angel Farias took two to the house on punt returns and special teamer Jack Diaz recovered a ball that was snapped over punter Nathan Ponce’s head into the end zone for another score. The punt team took over in the second quarter to help the Knights extend their winning streak to 37 consecutive games.
“When it went over the punter’s head, everybody just sort of attacked the ball,” Diaz said. “I was in the right place at the right time. Everybody contributes on this team. We all do our job. I thought the defense played well, but tonight it was special teams.”
It doesn’t hardly seem fair that a team averaging 54.4 points per game with a defense that didn’t allow a touchdown until Week 7, pitching six shutouts in 10 games, has one of the most explosive punt returners in the state. But Knights can score at any time from anywhere and Farias now has five punt returns for touchdowns.
He got to the edge with a short field and torched the Lightning with a 46-yard return to make it 20-0 to open the second quarter. The Knights forced La Salle to punt on its next possession and Diaz turned an errant snap into Royal’s second score in a little over a minute.
Farias, who returned one 64 yards last week in the regular-season finale against River View, took his second punt to the house with a 56-yard display of speed and open-field running, proving to La Salle lightning can strike twice.
“It helps to have some speed, but you have to have vision to see the whole field,” the 6-foot-2, 190-pound junior said. “If you have the blocking in place, it can happen regular. It’s something we practice every day and we get into the habit of setting it up.
“Royal football is a complete team. We’re offense, defense and special teams. We can score with all three.”
Sawyer Jenks has 32 touchdown passes so far this season. He was 8-of-15 for 102 yards without a TD through the air as the Knights worked on the running game for most of the night. Alonso Hernandez finished with 95 yards on 15 carries and two touchdowns. Lorenzo Myrick added 59 yards, including a nice little burst of speed on a 20-yard run from scrimmage. Corbin Christensen caught five balls for 88 yards.
“We missed a few things tonight, but we played hard,” Knights coach Wiley Allred said. “We’re going to need to be able to run the ball sometime, so it was part of the game plan. I thought the defense played solid.
(La Salle) came out with a different offense and they picked up a couple of first downs before we adjusted. But we’re working hard and trying to get better.”
Royal will host Freeman this week. The time and date is yet to be determined.
Score by quarters
La Salle 0 0 0 7 - 7
Royal 13 28 0 7 - 48
R - Lorenzo Myrick 14 run (Alonso Hernandez kick)
R - Alonso Hernandez 1 run (kick no good)
R - Angel Farias 46 punt return (Hernandez kick)
R - Jack Diaz 2 fumble recovery (Hernandez kick)
R - Angel Farias 56 punt return (Hernandez kick)
R - Sawyer Jenks 4 run (Osvaldo Guerrero kick)
R - Alonso Hernandez 10 run (Osvaldo Guerrero kick)
LS - Kieran Kershaw 4 pass from Ryan Kershaw (Nathan Ponce kick)