BELLFLOWER – Pre-game chatter and closely watched power rankings suggested Servite and St. John Bosco faced each other on Friday in the first of two showdowns over the coming weeks.
The first assignment was to brag about Trinity League rights, with a potential second clash looming in the CIF-SS Division 1 playoffs semi-finals between # 2 and # 3.
Servite must hope for the later to beat the Braves for the first time since 2011.
Quarterback Pierce Clarkson used his scrambling skills to throw two touchdowns and host St. John Bosco, who blocked Servite’s strong offense en route to a 24-10 win in a clash of the nation’s top five teams .
St. John Bosco, running back Jabari Bates, right, holds number one as he celebrates his touchdown against Servite with teammates Chedon James and Rayshon Luke from left in Bellflower on Friday, October 29, 2021 . (Photo by Paul Rodriguez, contributing photographer)
St. John Bosco cornerback Tayvion Beasley, left, breaks a pass for servite wide receiver Michael Welsh, right, in the first quarter in Bellflower on Friday, October 29, 2021. (Photo by Paul Rodriguez, Contributing Photographer)
Servite running back Houston Thomas (right) is brought down in front of linebacker Jalen Woods (left) in Bellflower of St. John Bosco on Friday, October 29, 2021. (Photo by Paul Rodriguez, Contributing Photographer)
St. John Bosco running back Jabari Bates drops into the end zone to score a touchdown against Servite at Bellflower on Friday October 29, 2021. (Photo by Paul Rodriguez, Contributing Photographer)
St. John Bosco running back Jabari Bates, right, flies against Servite in Bellflower on Friday, October 29, 2021 for extra meters. (Photo by Paul Rodriguez, Contributing Photographer)
The No. 4 Braves (9-1, 4-1) sealed the victory and second place in the Trinity League with a 37-yard touchdown pass from Katin Houser to slot receiver Chedon James in fourth and 3 with 2:26 left in the fourth quarter.
The dagger game came after No. 5 Servite (8-2, 3-2) blocked a 20-yard field goal attempt and rallied a second fumble in the fourth quarter to stay within a touchdown.
But the brothers fought on the offensive on the way to third place in the league. The Braves kept them goalless for the last three quarters after Servite scored 37 points against top-ranked and likely top-seeded Mater Dei last week.
St. John Bosco put Servite quarterback Noah Fifita under pressure, limiting the senior to 87 yards and his No. 1 target Tetairoa McMillan to two receptions for 23 yards.
Clarkson hobbled off the field after a tackle in the third quarter, but used his legs to burn Servite for big moves.
St. John Bosco hit on his third play scrimmage when Clarkson dodged two near-sacks before throwing deep to a wide open Colin Chase for a 49-yard touchdown.
Servite responded with 10 consecutive points to take a 10-7 lead after the first quarter.
The Brothers’ defense helped produce both results. David Lugo scored a 30-yard field goal when Servite capitalized on a short field after a sack from lineman Mason Graham. The Michigan commit ended with two sacks and forced the late fumble.
Later in the first quarter, Fifita crowned another short drive by throwing a 4-yard touchdown on wide receiver Mikey Welsh in the front corner of the end zone to give Servite a 10-7 lead by 22 seconds .
The blow came after the brothers’ Tuna Talavou found a forced fumble from Aden Eckenweller at the 19-yard line at St. John Bosco.
Clarkson again used his legs to give the Braves a 14-10 lead at halftime. The quick junior avoided another near-sack from Graham and connected with a 50-yard TD pass to Jabari Bates’ running back along the sideline with 1:32 remainder in the second quarter.
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Clarkson triggered the scoring drive with a 32-yard pass to Matayo Uiagalelei, who jumped over a tackler to gain additional yards.
The Braves defense also ended the half by stopping a Servite Drive to St. John Bosco 30 with an interception in Ty Lee’s end zone.
St. John Bosco kept the momentum early by opening the second half with a 24-yard field goal.
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