High school football: No. 2 Mater Dei downs No. 1 St. John Bosco 17-7 in defensive slugfest

Cameron Jones runs for St. John Bosco in the first half of the Braves' game against Mater Dei.

Mater Dei got a last-second score from Jordon Davison to make the score academic, but the game was tight throughout. The win likely vaults Mater Dei to No. 1 in the MaxPreps Top 25 rankings on Monday, but this probably isn’t the last time the two meet as it’s expected they both earn a trip to the CIF Southern Section Division I title game on Nov 25 at the Rose Bowl.
With the win, Mater Dei has now won three straight against its Trinity League rival and eight of the past 11 dating back to 2016. Monarchs quarterback Elijah Brown is 24-0 in his high school career, including the 3-0 mark against St. John Bosco.

Photo: Louis Lopez

Mater Dei’s Jordon Davison runs for tough yards in the Monarchs’ 17-7 win over No. 1 St. John Bosco on Friday.

Trailing 7-0 at halftime, St. John Bosco recovered from a disastrous first possession of the second half and turned it into the equalizing score late in the third quarter as Cameron Jones scored on a fourth-and-two from the six.

One possession earlier, St. John Bosco faced a fourth down from its own 28 before a bad punt combined with a penalty gave Mater Dei the ball on the 24, a net negative-four yard punt.

But the Braves’ defense came up with a momentum swing after stuffing Davison on fourth and short in the red zone.

Without starting quarterback Pierce Clarkson, who left the game at halftime with an apparent injury, Caleb Sanchez engineered a 10-play, 85-yard scoring drive that was heavy on the run with Jones and Khalil Warren. Jones powered it into the end zone to make it 7-7 with 3:42 left in the quarter.
Mater Dei retook the lead with seven minutes left in the fourth quarter on a 22-yard Andre Medina field goal to cap a scoring drive that ate more than four minutes off the clock.

Cameron Jones runs for St. John Bosco in the first half of the Braves' game against Mater Dei.

Photo: Louis Lopez

Cameron Jones runs for St. John Bosco in the first half of the Braves’ game against Mater Dei.

St. John Bosco had a chance to tie or take the lead, but the Braves’ next possession ended in a three-and-out and Brown and the Monarchs picked up a pair of first downs to escape with the victory.

The game was tied 0-0 at the end of the first quarter. The Monarchs put the first points of the night on the scoreboard on the second play of the second quarter as Brown scored on a 9-yard quarterback keeper on the read-option to put Mater Dei up 7-0. The Monarchs went 99 yards on 14 plays for the score, capitalizing on a Zabien Brown interception on an underthrown Clarkson Pierce Clarkson pass as St. John Bosco was moving on its first possession.
As it did on its first drive, St. John Bosco moved easily between the 20s, but as the Braves went for it on fourth down from the Mater Dei 29, RJ Fineanganofo ended the drive with a sack of Clarkson with seven minutes left in the first half.

Neither team was able to generate points heading into halftime as both defenses came up with big plays leading to intermission.

This has become the biggest rivalry in high school football since 2016 as the schools have combined for three MaxPreps national titles in the past five years. Over 150 players from the two campuses have matriculated to the FBS or FCS level over the last seven years and Friday’s contest features 74 players rated as a two-star prospects or higher by 247Sports.

Caleb Sanchez came in at quarterback in the second half for St. John Bosco in the Braves' 17-7 loss to Mater Dei.  He replaced Pierce Clarkson, who didn't play after halftime due to an injury.

Photo: Louis Lopez

Caleb Sanchez came in at quarterback in the second half for St. John Bosco in the Braves’ 17-7 loss to Mater Dei. He replaced Pierce Clarkson, who didn’t play after halftime due to an injury.

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