There's a new sheriff in town in the Trinity League ... for now, anyway.
Lonell Woodhouse ran for a game-clinching first down on fourth and one at the 41-yard line with 47 seconds left as Bellflower St. John Bosco moved into sole possession of first place in league with its 27-19 victory over host Santa Ana Mater Dei on Friday night.
It was the Braves' first win against Mater Dei at Santa Ana Stadium in 10 years and moved them one step closer to their first league crown since they captured the Serra League title in 2002.
"We thought about punting [during the timeout], but we have a great offensive line and we needed less than a yard," said St. John Bosco quarterback Josh Rosen, who completed five of 13 passes for 73 yards and one touchdown. "It's time that someone stepped up and passed the torch to a new school and right now that's us."
Darren Walker ignored an ankle injury to rush for 181 yards and one touchdown in 24 carries for the Braves (4-4, 3-0), who remain unbeaten on the field but had to forfeit four nonleague victories.
Nikolas Little had eight catches for 103 yards to lead Mater Dei (6-2, 2-1), but star receiver Thomas Duarte had to watch the second half on crutches from the sideline after suffering a right thigh contusion. He had three catches for 20 yards in the first half.
"I caught the ball, shook one guy off and dove for the first down, but another guy got me on the leg," Duarte said of the play that caused his injury late in the first quarter. "I played the whole second quarter with it, but they wouldn't let me go in the second half."
The Monarchs crept to within 27-19 on a leaping catch in the end zone by Ben Humphreys with 1:42 left, but St. John Bosco recovered the ensuing onside kick.
Mater Dei quarterback Ryan McMahon completed 21 of 36 passes for 198 yards. The Monarchs had 19 first downs to St. John Bosco's 12, but they couldn't finish drives. An example was J.C. Genova getting stopped one foot short on fourth-and-two from the Braves' nine-yard line with 7:24 left.
Rosen was called for intentional grounding in the end zone, resulting in a safety and a sack by linebacker Grant Moore, pulling Mater Dei to within 24-12 with one second left in the third quarter.
After an offsides penalty moved the ball five yards closer, the Braves chose not to punt and Reid Budrovich instead kicked a 46-yard field goal to give St. John Bosco a 10-7 lead with 8:41 left in the second quarter.
"We overlooked JSerra last week," Rosen said. "We were able to win in overtime, but we thought we were better than we were. It brought us back down to earth and we prepared even harder for this game."
Mater Dei took a 7-0 lead when Treavon Coley took a handoff 80 yards on the first play from scrimmage. He finished with 88 yards in five carries.
Brett Baldwin cut back across the field and ran 74 yards on a punt return that increased the Braves' lead to 17-7 with 44 seconds left in the first half.
"We're in the driver's seat now," said Walker, whose seven-yard run capped a nine-play, 75-yard drive to tie the score, 7-7, midway through the first quarter. "The turning point was Brett's punt return. That gave us all the momentum we needed to pull this out."