CARSON, Calif. (AP) — Winning its first CIF-Southern Section championship in school history didn’t seem to be enough for the St. John Bosco football team.
The Braves turned in an encore performance by beating storied De La Salle, 20-14, Saturday night to win the Open Division of the CIF State Football Bowl Game, Saturday night at the StubHub Center.
Josh Rosen threw for 200 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Braves to their storybook ending. Four years ago, the Braves were struggling just to be an average team but since head coach Jason Negro took over the program the results have been positive.
“We played disciplined tonight,” Negro said. “Our kids played so hard and they were so doggone physical. If you play that way against De La Salle, you’ve got a chance to win. That’s what we did.”
The win snapped De La Salle’s 40-game winning streak and ended its run of four consecutive state titles.
The Spartans (14-1) showed why they are worthy of their reputation. De La Salle trailed, 20-7, in the fourth quarter when they got the offensive momentum that had eluded them throughout most of the game. Quarterback Chris Williams threw a 52-yard touchdown pass to Marquis Morris, to move to within six points.
The Braves recovered the ensuing onside kick but couldn’t do anything on their possession. Rosen was sacked by Larry Ross for a 4-yard loss, and fumbled the ball on the next play for a loss of 15 more yards.
“I would have died if we had lost the ball right there,” Rosen said. “I picked up a wet ball and that’s what happened.”
Zachary Robinson fell on the loose ball to retain possession at the St. John Bosco 20.
De La Salle (14-1) got the ball back at the Braves 44 with 4:30 remaining in the game and moved to the 30 before the drive stalled. Gavin Windes tipped Williams’ fourth-down pass into the air, then caught the ball for the interception to secure the win.
“We just made too many mistakes,” De La Salle coach Justin Alumbaugh said as some of his players left the field in tears. “They are a really, really good team. We just made too many mistakes and you can’t do that against a team like them.”
The Braves (16-0) led, 3-0, after one quarter but opened up a comfortable lead with two touchdowns in the second. Rosen hit Jaleel Wadood with a 60-yard scoring strike to give the Braves a 10-0 lead.
De La Salle answered with an 11-yard touchdown run by John Velasco but St. John Bosco countered with a 7-yard touchdown pass from Rosen to Wadood that gave the Braves a 17-7 lead.
Wadood finished with five receptions for 115 yards.
The teams struggled to get anything done in the third quarter due to St. John Bosco’s defense and its offense.
The Spartans’ two possessions in the third quarter started at their 2- and 5-yard lines respectively.
Meanwhile, the Braves had trouble getting anything going offensively because of a rash of holding penalties. A 51-yard touchdown run by Sean McGrew late in the third quarter was called back because of the fourth such penalty in that quarter.
It didn’t seem to matter. St. John Bosco was undaunted and determined to finish its perfect season.
“We just had to play our game,” said McGrew, who ran for 143 yards on 24 carries. “I don’t think any of us were intimidated at all. We knew we had a chance to beat them. It just showed tonight that we weren’t afraid.”
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