Braves Rally to Beat Servite

Times Staff Writer

The improbable season for Bellflower St. John Bosco became even more unbelievable Friday night when the Braves scored 15 points in the final 5 minutes 30 seconds and defeated Anaheim Servite, 24-20, in a Serra League game at St. John Bosco.

The Braves (7-2, 4-0 in league play), often the forgotten team in a league with Los Angeles Loyola, Santa Ana Mater Dei, Santa Margarita and La Puente Bishop Amat, are now only one victory away from winning their first league title since 1986.

The Braves play at Santa Ana Stadium next Thursday against Mater Dei. Should the Monarchs defeat Santa Margarita tonight, both teams will be unbeaten in league play entering that game.

“Every win for us is big,” Coach Kiki Mendoza said. “When we beat Loyola, we said, ‘Wow, that’s big.’ When we beat Santa Margarita, that was big. Now we’ve got the biggest game of all next week.”


It didn’t seem likely midway through the fourth quarter. Servite (7-2, 2-2) held a 20-9 lead after quarterback Ryan Coffelt plunged in from one yard with 8:46 left.

St. John Bosco then drove to the Servite 10-yard line but fumbled with 5:37 left.

“I don’t cuss much, but when that happened I did,” Mendoza said. “But then I regrouped and I told the defense to get the ball back and we’ll win the game.”

They did, and they did.

One play after the fumble, defensive back Derrick Williams stripped Servite’s Dillon Bedard and Joe Cowan scooped it up and ran 15 yards for a touchdown. A two-point conversion run by quarterback Joseph Souza pulled St. John Bosco to within 20-17 with 5:30 left.

Two plays later, Servite fumbled again and Cameron Fortner jumped on the ball to give St. John Bosco possession at the Friar 18. Five plays later, Albert Butler bulldozed in from five yards to give St. John Bosco a 24-20 lead with 2:51 left.

Servite drove to the Braves’ 35, but a fourth-down pass by Coffelt fell incomplete with 1:19 remaining.

“That’s all we think about around here,” Cowan said about the league title. “It’s never been done in [the Serra League] by this team.”


Servite, meanwhile, is now scrambling to make the playoffs after looking like the league favorite when it opened the season 7-0. The Friars, who lost last week to Mater Dei, 24-7, must now defeat Loyola next week to claim third place and an automatic playoff berth.

“I thought we were in good position at the end,” Servite Coach Larry Toner said. “There’s no reason to think that we’re going to fumble twice in three plays.”

Butler rushed eight times for 53 yards and two touchdowns and Williams had 79 yards in 12 carries for the Braves.

Joel Rubalcaba rushed for 68 yards and a touchdown in 12 carries for Servite, which outgained St. John Bosco, 329-257.