LA North: No. 5 Gardena Serra 41, St. Francis 14

LA CANADA FLINTRIDGE – Gardena Serra receiver George Farmer caught three touchdown passes in his team’s 41-14 win over St. Francis in the Mission League opener for both teams on Saturday night.

Every one of his touchdown catches came at crucial times of the game.

His first gave Serra, the No. 5 team in the ESPNLA.com rankings, a 13-0 lead in the first quarter. He caught a little outlet pass, broke a couple tackles and turned it into an 82-yard touchdown reception.

His second touchdown came with seven seconds left in the first half. He caught a 35-yard pass from quarterback Conner Preston in the corner of the end zone to put Serra up 27-14 at halftime.

His third and final touchdown capped the opening drive of the third quarter. Farmer caught a 25-yard touchdown pass from Preston that gave his team a 34-14 lead.

Serra coach Scott Altenberg said Farmer’s third touchdown catch was the most important.

“The first drive of the second half was going to be big for us and it was,” Altenberg said.

Serra (6-0) jumped out to a 20-0 lead in the first half. In addition to Farmer’s first-quarter touchdown, Serra scored on a 3-yard run by running back Shaquille Richard and a 15-yard fumble recovery from Patrick Wooten.

St. Francis mounted a little comeback, scoring twice in the second quarter, and cut Serra’s lead to six.

St. Francis quarterback Brett Nelson scored on a 1-yard run with seven minutes to play in the second quarter. The Golden Knights scored again on a 13-yard touchdown pass from Nelson to Christian Hess with 3:27 to play in the second quarter.

But that was as close at St. Francis (3-3) would get.

“It’s unfortunate, because we played better than the score indicated,” said St. Francis coach Jim Bonds. “I was proud of our effort.”

Serra scored its final touchdown in the fourth quarter. Preston scored on a 3-yard run with 4:37 to play in the game.

Farmer had a huge night with nine catches for 217 yards and three touchdowns.

“He had a great game,” Altenberg said. But Altenberg wasn’t completely satisfied with his team’s performance or composure. His players were called for unsportsmanlike penalties late in the game and one of the referees said one of the Serra players threw a punch at a St. Francis player. “We had our moments when we didn’t execute. It’s frustrating.”

Preston threw for 304 yards and was 18-of-25 passing. Richard gained 65 yards on 15 carries and was the leading rusher for Serra.

Nelson threw for 241 yards and a touchdown for St. Francis. He was 22-of-36 passing, rushed for a touchdown and threw one interception.

Hess caught seven passes for 87 yards and a touchdown. Travis Talianko caught five passes for 57 yards.