It wasn’t as easy and seamless as Mater Dei has been accustomed to a one-sided 2017 campaign, but the Monarchs got it done, capturing a sectional title in the process.
No. 1 Mater Dei held off a fierce challenge from No. 9 St. John Bosco in the CIF Southern Section final, using a fourth quarter surge to cap a 49-24 victory.
Don’t be blinded by the scoreline; the game was much closer than it looks on paper.
Mater Dei provided the only offense of the first quarter with a Shakobe Harper touchdown for a 7-0 lead. Bosco fought it’s way on to the board with a field goal at the mid-point of the second quarter, only for Mater Dei to rally and take a 14-3 lead. Bosco replied with another touchdown to make it a 14-10.
That’s when Mater Dei embarked on what may have been the most pivotal drive of their season thus far. The Monarchs started on their own 30 yard line with just more than a minute remaining in the half, then used a series of J.T. Daniels completions to move down the field. Finally Daniels connected with fellow five-star junior prospect Bru McCoy for a touchdown in the final seconds of the period to give the Monarchs a 21-10 lead at the break.
The teams traded touchdowns in the third quarter before Mater Dei jumped out with a pair of early touchdowns — the second of which was another McCoy score — to lead up to a 42-17 lead. Bosco would score again to cut the lead to 42-24 and recover a subsequent onside kick, but Mater Dei’s defense stiffened, eventually taking over at its own 30 yard line with fewer than 3:00 remaining. The Monarchs launched a drive that concluded with a 50-yard gallop to the end zone by Harper, officially salting away the victory and setting up the final score of 49-24.
The win ensures that the Monarchs are Southern Section champions, and that their season will continue, all while ending Bosco’s short of another bowl game. It also keeps Mater Dei’s prospective championship charge alive, providing another stern test in the process.