Winning the Southern Section Pac-5 championship is anything but easy. Winning it two years in a row is that much harder.
Bellflower St. John Bosco found that out Saturday night at Angel Stadium, where Corona Centennial scored three unanswered touchdowns in just over three minutes late in the second quarter on its way to a 48-41 victory in front of a crowd of 11,596.
"We talked this week about the list of accomplishments we've had here and we wanted to finish by winning our first Pac-5 championship," Centennial Coach Matt Logan said. "There were a lot of great plays made on both sides but we hung tough and made the plays when we needed them. This is such a tough division -- this was our biggest margin of victory [in the playoffs]."
Centennial scored first on Sammonte Bonner's one-yard run with 3:01 left in the first quarter and St. John Bosco tied it 7-7 on Sean McGrew's five-yard run with 13 seconds left in the quarter. Bonner scored on a four-yard run midway through the second quarter but McGrew's nine-yard scoring run pulled the Braves even less than one minute later.
After Bonner broke loose for a 63-yard touchdown run, defensive back Chacho Uloa recovered a McGrew fumble at the Braves' 30-yard line and three plays later Anthony Catalano connected with Javon McKinley on an 18-yard touchdown pass. McKinley finished with 13 catches for 152 yards.
Nate Ketteringham threw a fourth-down pass 32 yards to Cal commit Greyson Bankhead in the end zone to make it 34-14 Centennial with 2:14 left in the half. Ketteringham was 13 of 16 for 171 yards and Catalano was nine of 17 for 113 yards.
"My O-line created the gap and I just had to be patient and hit the holes," said Bonner, who rushed for 227 yards in 43 carries.
"It was a great effort by our line," Logan said. "We were outweighed on our front line by about 30 pounds a man, but we battled. Sammonte is tough as nails. He played his heart out."
Desmond Williams made a leaping interception at the Huskies' 41-yard line late in the half, but Jake Perez missed a 43-yard field goal as time expired.
The top-seeded Braves (12-2) showed that they wouldn't relinquish their crown without a fight, scoring on their first drive of second half on a 44-yard touchdown pass from Josh Rosen to McGrew. Rosen completed 16 of 27 passes for 270 yards and two touchdowns. McGrew rushed for 114 yards in 13 carries.
The second-seeded Huskies (12-2) answered on Bonner's fourth touchdown run from six yards out for a 41-20 lead, but Clifford Simms ran over left tackle on fourth-and-goal from the 1-yard line and on the Braves' next drive Rosen hit Jarred Harrell in stride for a 60-yard touchdown to cut Centennial's lead to 41-34 late in the third quarter.
Defensive lineman Seleti Fevaleaki intercepted Rosen at the line of scrimmage and returned it five yards and Catalano scored on a seven-yard keeper on the next play to extend Centennial's lead to 48-34 with 8:03 remaining.
On fourth down at the St. John Bosco 35-yard line, Rosen scrambled out of the pocket and raced 52 yards up the sideline to the Centennial 13. One play later, Kaylin Franklin took a short pass into the end zone to narrow Centennial's lead to 48-41 with 6:33 left.