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St. Frances Panthers' running back Blake Corum, seen during a game last fall, scored two touchdowns Friday in a shutout victory over American Collegiate Academy. (Karl Merton Ferron / Baltimore Sun Staff)
St. Frances Panthers' running back Blake Corum, seen during a game last fall, scored two touchdowns Friday in a shutout victory over American Collegiate Academy. (Karl Merton Ferron / Baltimore Sun Staff) (Karl Merton Ferron / Baltimore Sun)

St. Frances sophomore quarterback John Griffith threw for five touchdowns in the first half while senior running back and Michigan commit Blake Corum rushed for a touchdown, as the Panthers continued their dominant start to the season with a 64-0 win over American Collegiate Academy (Clearwater, FL) on Friday night.

Griffith is part of the new on-field leadership for St. Frances (3-0) and he holds a distinct title that no previous player his age with the Baltimore powerhouse has ever held.

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“He’s [Griffith] mature beyond his years,” St. Frances co-head coach Henry Russell said of his quarterback. “John is an incredibly hard worker. We’ve never had captain that’s a sophomore for us and that says a lot about who he is as a person and his character.”

The Panthers began a torrid pace of scoring within the first quarter and never looked back. Everything began with a jet sweep for an 11-yard touchdown two minutes into the game by wide receiver Lamar Patterson. Just a few minutes later, wide receiver Jahmal Banks caught a pass and turned it upfield for a 27-yard touchdown reception.

St. Frances opens football season with rout of Central Miami

Corum rushed for the first of his two touchdowns with a 56-yard run at the 5:12 mark in the opening quarter. To finish off the first quarter, Banks caught his second touchdown of the night to give St. Frances a commanding 28-0 lead.

Griffith then passed the ball to Patterson for a touchdown just 23 seconds into the second quarter. Running back Kevin Thompson would add to St. Frances’ lead with a long rush for a touchdown soon after. Generating a fumble recovery and a deep return on the next possession, Griffith tossed another touchdown — this time to Issac White.

The sophomore gunslinger would throw his fifth touchdown pass of the night to wide receiver LJ Robinson. Before the half ended, St. Frances caused a fumble that resulted in a safety. With a 58-0 lead, the clock continued to run for the rest of the game.

Despite a huge individual performance, Griffith gave the credit to his teammates and attributed the team’s offensive success to continuing development together.

“I believe this team — it just takes everybody in the offense,” Griffith said. “We started off all of the way down below, we were struggling early on but we’re just really becoming a team. Last year, I was a freshman so I wasn’t really a leader. This year, I think that I stepped it up a lot and all of the other players on offense, especially my O-Line.”

St. Frances’ Cam Kodua would score the final touchdown of the game with a rush. His touchdown came on the heels of late hits by American Collegiate. Those penalties spilled into the bench area for the Florida-based program and caused the premature end of a blowout victory. St. Frances refrained from retaliating and, for Russell, that speaks to the type of character that his players possess.

“I’m really proud of our kids,” Russell said. “They [American Collegiate] kept baiting us [and] the referees kept coming up to us and saying ‘You’re unbelieveable.’ They were saying that the other team was talking trash the whole time and our kids kept their composure. We actually had a ref after the game come up and compliment our kids.

“That really could’ve turned ugly and you really hate seeing that in sports. So, I’m really proud of our kids to keep their composure, walk away and come out of here with a W.”

St. Frances will take on another nationally-ranked foe in Mater Dei next Saturday at St. John Bosco High School.

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