Last year, St. John’s College High School (Washington, D.C.) steamrolled over Gonzaga College High School (Washington, D.C.) in the championship game, winning 30-7.
Last week, the Cadets did the same, defeated Gonzaga 34-17.
It would not happen a third time.
The Eagles (8-3) took down St. John’s, a previously undefeated team who sat at No. 5 team in the USA TODAY High School Sports‘ Super 25, allowing just one touchdown in a 24-14 victory.
They clinched the win with a 95-yard fumble return touchdown.
It was the culmination of a game full of defense, with only nine total points scored in the first half.
In the third quarter, a long pass from quarterback Caleb Williams to wide receiver John Marshall set Gonzaga up inside the 10-yard line, according to the MaxPreps scorecard. Williams punched home a three-yard rushing touchdown to grab a 10-6 lead with about five minutes to go in the quarter.
On the next drive, a sack put St. John’s on its own eight-yard line and the Cadets were forced to punt.
Dean Engram took it 46 yards to the house.
Undefeated teams don’t just shrink, though.
St. John’s quarterback Sol-Jay Maiava completed a 15-yard touchdown pass and then converted the two-point conversion to bring the Cadets within a field goal in the fourth quarter.
They later fielded a punt around midfield and got into the red zone, but then the ball handler fumbled.
It was reportedly a controversial fumble; both MaxPreps reporter John Metz and Washington Post reporter Jacob Bogage said the runner looked like he was down.
— ((( Jacob Bogage ))) (@jacobbogage) November 10, 2018
It was not overturned, though, and Gonzaga held on for the win.
The Eagles will head to the finals, where they’ll face DeMatha Catholic High School (Hyattsville, Md.)
Last time those two teams played was Oct. 27. Gonzaga lost in triple overtime.