The Rose Bowl (Pasadena, Calif.) was the setting for the CIF Southern Section Football Division I Championship between Mater Dei and St. John Bosco, two of the best teams in the state and country — No. 1 vs. No. 4 in the USA TODAY Sports Super 25 rankings.
It had been 78 years since the iconic Southern California stadium hosted the championship game, and in the words of the legendary broadcaster Keith Jackson, the outcome had only one acceptable response: Whoa, Nelly!
The game started off much like the first matchup back on October 7—which Mater Dei won, 17-7—with both teams showing signs of momentum while mistakes kept either from building anything substantial heading into halftime.
Score at the half: 7-7.
It was a different tone in the final 24 minutes, though.
Behind resilient quarterback play from Pierce Clarkson—who missed the second half of the first game and had a scare in this one as well—and an impressive defensive effort, St. John Bosco fed off the Monarchs’ mistakes. The tie quickly shifted to a 24-13 Braves’ lead.
Mind you, when you’re within sight of Hollywood, the only fitting way to end such a game would be dramatically. And both teams didn’t miss a beat in the script as the fourth quarter progressed.
Overtime seemed like the destined outcome, but alas, Mater Dei landed just short of a two-point attempt, needing another possession and a miracle to keep the undefeated season intact.
In the end, however, it wasn’t meant to be for the top team in the country.
And scene: St. John Bosco 24, Mater Dei 22.
It’s the first time since 2019 that the Braves have beaten the Monarchs, with that epic comeback now having company with the 2022 championship game storyline.
As for the Super 25 rankings, the victory will weigh heavily on how the best teams in the country rank on Tuesday. And, of course, it raises a few questions…
Until then, here is how the rest of the action unfolded on Friday night and Saturday afternoon.
USA TODAY Sports Super 25 Scoreboard
1. Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.)
Result: lost to St. John Bosco (Calif.) 24-22
2. Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas, Nev.)
3. Central (Miami, Fla.)
Result: defeated Norland (Fla.) 34-20
4. St. John Bosco (Bellflower, Calif.)
Result: defeated Mater Dei (Calif.) 24-22
5. IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.)
6. Chaminade-Madonna (Hollywood, Fla.)
Result: defeated Cardinal Newman (Fla.) 49-16
7. St. Thomas Aquinas (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)
Result: defeated Blanche Ely (Fla.) 35-7
8. Duncanville (Texas)
Result: defeated The Woodlands (Texas) 35-3
9. St. Frances Academy (Baltimore, Md.)
10. North Shore (Houston, Texas)
Result: defeated Cinco Ranch (Texas) 49-21
11. Westlake (Austin, Texas)
Result: defeated San Benito (Texas) 44-7
12. American Heritage (Plantation, Fla.)
Result: defeated Cardinal Gibbons (Fla.) 31-20
13. Guyer (Denton, Texas)
Result: defeated Byron Nelson (Texas) 59-41
14. Lipscomb Academy (Nashville, Tenn.)
15. Katy (Texas)
Result: defeated Summer Creek (Texas) 35-7
16. Liberty (Peoria, Ariz.)
Result: defeated O’Connor (Ariz.) 56-26
17. Langston Hughes (Fairburn, Ga.)
Result: defeated Woodward Academy (Ga.) 56-28
18. Lakeland (Fla.)
Result: defeated Lake Minneola (Fla.) 41-6
19. Serra (San Mateo, Calif.)
Result: defeated Archbishop Mitty (Calif.) 41-14
20. Southlake Carroll (Texas)
Result: defeated McKinney (Texas) 42-35
21. Colquitt County (Norman Park, Ga.)
Result: defeated North Gwinnett (Ga.) 52-17
22. St. Edward (Lakewood, Ohio)
Result: defeated Gahanna Lincoln (Ohio) 31-7
23. Basha (Chandler, Ariz.)
Result: defeated American Leadership Academy (Ariz.) 31-25
24. Buford (Ga.)
25. Edgewater (Orlando, Fla.)
Result: lost to Jones (Fla.) 52-7