CERRITOS – Last Friday St. John Bosco’s football team played with poise under pressure and scored two fourth quarter touchdowns to pull out the 33-21 win over Long Beach Poly and punched their ticket to the CIF Southern Section Pac-5 championship game. Smiling ear to ear, “Amazing, it feels amazing,” is how Bosco coach Jason Negro described how he feels about his team heading back to the championship game and a chance to win back to back titles.
However, before the smiles and hugs of congratulations, Bosco had to find a way to get past the Long Beach Poly Jackrabbits. Poly ended Bosco’s playoff run in the 2012 semifinal game ( 13-10 ) and were eager to do it again.
This game was played in front of a very energetic packed house at Cerritos College and it didn’t take long for Poly to give their fans something to cheer for.
After Poly forced a Bosco punt to start the contest, Poly’s starting QB Josh Love struck quickly and hooked up with Johnnie Rucker for a 53-yard scoring strike to stake the Jackrabbit’s to the early 7-0 lead.
Later in the first quarter, a fumbled punt by Poly gave Bosco the ball deep in Poly territory and the Braves were able to cash in on the turnover. Bosco running back Clifford Simms muscled across the goal line from two yards out to tie the score at 7-7 to end the first quarter.
The second quarter saw Bosco quarterback Josh Rosen and Poly’s Love exchange touchdown passes and keep the score knotted at 14-14 through most of the second quarter.
One of Love’s only miscues happened when he was intercepted by Bosco’s Mykal Tolliver and Tolliver took it to the house for the pick six and Bosco lead 20-14, after the PAT was missed.
Bosco took the 20-14 lead into intermission, but this one was far from over.
Poly’s Love remained the Jackrabbit’s QB to start the third quarter, but after playing one series he was removed from the game (undisclosed reasons) and replaced by Tevaka Salanoa-tuioti. Salanoa-tuioti would finish the game under center for Poly.
After Bosco’s Sean McGrew’s second punt of the half backed Poly up to their own 8-yard line it was time for Salanoa-tuioti to go to work. The back-up QB led his team on a 92-yard scoring drive.
On the go-ahead-drive Poly was able to convert 3rd downs and were aided by Bosco penalties that also kept the drive alive. A crucial “unnecessary roughness” call against Bosco moved the ball to the Brave’s nine-yard line and on the next play Jeremy Calhoun ran it in and put Poly in front 21-20 with 3:05 left in the 3rd quarter.
Throughout most of the third quarter Poly’s defense kept the Braves’ offense off-balance, by stuffing the run and putting enough pressure on quarterback Rosen to keep him from finding a rhythm with his receiving corp.
Still trailing 21-20 to start the 4th quarter Bosco finally made a couple of big plays on defense and a crucial penalty against Poly gave the Braves’ offense the window of opportunity they needed.
After Poly was held to no gain on their first play from scrimmage to begin the 4th quarter, one of the most crucial plays of the game took place in this epic battle.
On second down and ten Poly’s Salanoa-tuioti was flushed from the pocket, started to scramble and then completed a pass to his wide receiver downfield.
Problem was Salanoa-tuioti was passed the line of scrimmage when he made the pass. This penalty resulted in a loss of down and backed Poly up ten yards to make it third down and 20 yards for the first.
Facing third and long Poly tried to sneak a draw play past Bosco, but defensive end Jacob Collier kept his containment and stopped the run for a minimal gain.
The ensuing punt gave the Braves excellent field position to begin their most important drive of the season.
Staying true to their game plan Bosco relied on the legs and vision of junior running back Sean McGrew to find the creases his offensive line created for him.
Behind McGrew’s running, plus a Poly offside penalty on a critical third down play, Bosco moved the ball inside the Jackrabbit’s 25 yard line.
With Poly respecting Bosco’s running game it created the one-on-one match-up quarterback Josh Rosen was waiting for. Going on a quick count after a Bosco first down, Rosen hit a streaking Joey Chenoweth up the right sideline for the 23-yard touchdown pass and the 27-20 lead with 7:58 remaining in the game.
After the ensuing kick-off Bosco’s defense was helped by two more drive killing penalties by Poly who couldn’t muster any type of offensive momentum and were forced to punt the ball back to Bosco with 6:01 left in the 4th quarter.
Seeing the finish line, the running duo of McGrew and Clifford Simms went to work moving the chains and keeping the clock ticking. After a Simms run set up a third and six from the Poly 21 yard line it was time for McGrew to do what he does.
Coming out of a Bosco timeout McGrew took the handoff from Rosen, hit the hole shifted left then broke a tackle and regained his balance to scamper into the end zone for the score that sealed the victory for Bosco 33-21.
The touchdown was the 25th rushing TD for McGrew on the season and set a new school record that has been in place since 1968.
Bosco is now (12-1) on the season and will face Corona Centennial in the Pac-5 Championship Game.
The game will be played Saturday, Dec. 6, at Angel Stadium, 8 p.m. kickoff.
Published: Dec. 4, 2014 - Volume 13 - Issue 34