The defensive stands and offensive line help St.  John Bosco to win the championship over Mater Dei

St. John Bosco senior quarterback Pierce Clarkson rallied from injury to finish with 264 yards and three touchdowns, the defense made vital stops and the Braves atoned for a costly special teams mistake to win the CIF-SS Div. 1 championship and ending the 29-game winning streak of No. 1 Mater Dei (Santa Ana, CA).

With a 24-22 victory Friday, No. 4 St. John Bosco (Bellflower, Calif.) reminded the nation that it might just be the best team in the country.

The Braves, now in position to compete for the California Open Division championship against Serra (San Mateo, Calif.) in two weeks, ended the career of longtime Mater Dei coach Bruce Rollinson, whose final season of his 34 years at the helm of the Monarchs consisted of one less game than he had planned.

In games between equal rivals playing for the highest stakes, victory is often decided by the team that best takes advantage of each other’s mistakes and errors. Both teams had a big blunder on special teams on Friday night, and both were instrumental pieces leading to Bosco’s last defensive stand.

Early in the second half, the Monarchs missed the PAT on a long catch-and-run over the middle by Marcus Brown. They didn’t tie the score until 14, and although it was just one point with 20 minutes left, it would force Mater Dei into a two-point conversion with the game on the line.

That was because Clarkson continued to drive the ball downfield quickly. He hit DeAndre Moore with a short pass, and Moore got a block and scored a 72-yard touchdown.

Mater Dei was in the most dangerous position it has faced since the second game of the season against Bishop Gorman (Nev.). Like that game against the Gaels in August, though, Mater Dei drove the field. Elijah Brown and Jordan Onowu connected for a ridiculous catch on third and 17getting a chance for a touchdown.

The Braves held strong in the red zone, forcing a fourth down. The Monarchs elected to get a field goal and rely on their defense to get another stop.

The Mater Dei chapter did just that, breaking a coin toss by Clarkson to force the kick. The Braves lined up with just over 3:30 to play.

Opportunities and mistakes. The Monarchs got their chance when the snap flew over the punter’s head. It was a free special teams touchdown, but it was called back near the point of the recovery as the refs ruled a forward pass illegal when the Monarch in front of the ball carrier reached for the ball and appeared to have simultaneous possession.

That forced Mater Dei to dial back its offense and use some time off the clock. Every second counts in this fast ride that Onovughe did excellent catch and return Jordan Davison made his way into the end zone from the one yard line.

They lined up for a two-point conversion and ran a similar play featuring Davison as the ball carrier.

Bosco needed another protection. They got it. They took Davison down about a yardreturning the ball back to her offense, having to simply run out the clock.

On third-and-six, Bosco’s offensive line showed up again. The unit didn’t allow a single sack in the game, but this play was a little different than the mass defense they had offered Clarkson all along.

Screen gap. When the blitz came, the line gave Clarkson plenty of time to get the ball to Mataio Wagalelei. As Uiagalelei turned up four yards behind the line of scrimmage — a full 10 yards from the marker for a wedge first down — Sean Na’a put a strong block on the linebacker and created the room he needed to ice the game.

Rollinson didn’t take the final timeout, and Bosco head coach Jason Negro led the celebration on the sideline as the clock ticked closer and closer to zero.

This game was the first CIF-SS championship game to be held in the Rose Bowl since 1944 as part of the Rose Bowl’s 100th anniversary celebration. With a total of 78 Div. I prospects, according to Live sports bettingit looked more like a college game than a high school game.

These two schools are consistently at the top of the rankings not only in California, but nationally as well. There hasn’t been a competitive race at this level of play in the last half decade. On Friday, for the first time since 2019, Bosco returned to the top.

See the full USA TODAY High School Sports Super 25 recap

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