As 6-foot-7, 325-pound offensive tackle Tommy Brown of Santa Ana Mater Dei put a bear hug around quarterback J.T. Daniels on Friday night, many in the crowd of about 9,000 roared.
"The streak is over," Brown told him.
No. 1-ranked Mater Dei hadn't beaten No. 2 Bellflower St. John Bosco since 2010, losing six games in row. This time, at Cerritos College, the Monarchs rallied for a 26-21 victory, ending St. John Bosco's 23-game Trinity League win streak.
"Our defensive and offensive lines won the game for us," Mater Dei Coach Bruce Rollinson said.
The advantage for much of the game belonged to St. John Bosco (6-2, 2-1). The Braves were pressuring Daniels with a three-man rush and were running the ball effectively after opening a 14-6 halftime lead.
But momentum began to change early in the third quarter when Amon-ra St. Brown returned a punt 75 yards for a touchdown.
St. John Bosco answered with a 15-yard touchdown run by Demetrious Flowers for a 21-12 lead. Daniels connected with Osiris St. Brown for a 15-yard touchdown pass with 8:47 left, making the score 21-19.
Then came the most important play of the game. Jalen Cole intercepted a Re-al Mitchell pass, giving Mater Dei the ball on St. John Bosco's 43.
Suddenly the Monarchs began to run the ball behind Raphael Jones and Shakobe Harper. Harper's one-yard touchdown plunge with 7:01 left gave Mater Dei the lead for good.
"The pick absolutely killed us," St. John Bosco Coach Jason Negro said.
Daniels came into the game having completed 81% of his passes. He finished 19 of 29 for 129 yards because of a strong St. John Bosco defensive performance.
Harper rushed for 73 yards and Jones had 42, mostly in the fourth quarter.
Mater Dei benefited from exceptional special teams. Ryan Stronehouse averaged 50.4 yards on five punts and Chase McGrath made two field goals.
For St. John Bosco, Mitchell rushed for 117 yards but had two passes intercepted. Terrance Beasley gained 80 yards.
Flowers rushed for 61 yards and scored two touchdowns.
The Braves' front three of Jacob Callier, Kyle Murray and Sal Spina came up with two sacks and forced Mater Dei into some uncomfortable moments.
"We accomplished what we wanted to but didn't take care of the football," Negro said.
Mater Dei's ability to run when it needed proved decisive.
"I knew we could," Brown said. "It's easier to get yards with the receivers, but when we needed to run, we did."
Mater Dei improved to 8-0 overall and 3-0 in league.
The major result is that St. John Bosco will likely have to go through Corona Centennial in the Division 1 playoffs if it expects to get a rematch against Mater Dei in the final. Mater Dei is in the driver's seat for the No. 1 seed.