Video: First half highlights
Bosco takes a 21-7 first-half lead.
NORWALK, Calif. —
Generational is a term often bantered about these days. DJ Uiagalelei
put his stamp on that moniker in his final high school game.
The St. John Bosco (Bellflower, Calif.)
senior quarterback delivered a performance that will be remembered
around Southern and
Northern California regions for years to come by
throwing for 398 yards and four touchdowns as the nation's No. 1 team
won their third CIF State championship in since 2013 with a fun and
big-play happy 49-28 victory over a feisty and eighth-ranked De La Salle (Concord.)
squad Saturday at Cerritos College.
In a game that featured more than 900 yards, the biggest play actually was delivered on the defensive end when Matthew Jordan
picked up a botched quarterback-running back exchange and sprinted 96
yards for a touchdown just as it seemed almost certain that De La Salle
was going in for a score that would closed Bosco's gap to a single
Instead, the 14-point swing took
all the air of an otherwise tight second half and gave Bosco its final
margin with 3:28 remaining.
three-and-out, the Braves (13-1) ran out the clock, securing their third
state crown, all over the Spartans. More importantly, it almost
assuredly locked up their first national championship.
"It's been a
heck of a ride," Bosco coach Jason Negro said. "I think the thing that
not too many people realize how difficult our schedule we just played
and the road we had to go through to win a state title in California is
one of the more challenging tasks any team has to go through.
"To have to
go through and beat Calabasas and Centennial-Corona and Mater Dei and
then De La Salle. It was daunting and our kids had to come to work every
single week and be prepared and I think our guys did a really good job
of that. I couldn't be prouder of these guys."
It didn't come without a fight, even though the Braves led wire-to-wire.
De La Salle got monumental efforts from running back Shamar Garrett
(113 yards rushing, three touchdowns, 12 tackles) and quarterback Dorian Hale
(259 total yards), but every time the Spartans broke off a big play, Uiagalelei answered — either with his arm or legs.
6-foot-5, 245-pound Clemson-bound quarterback, compared often in size
and arm strength to Ben Roethlisberger, threw touchdown passes of 20
, 6 yards to JonJon Vaughns
, 71 yards to Beaux Collins
and 12 yards to Logan Loya
Three of his receivers ran freely through a talented and fleet De La
Salle secondary and broke the century yard-mark: Oregon-bound Hutson
(seven catches, 133 yards), UCLA-bound Loya (8, 117) and Collins (4,
Time-after-time, Uiagalelei threaded the needle often while chased out of the pocket. That or he ran for big chunks of yards.
just showed so much poise," Negro said. "He just hangs in there and
makes good decision. He's a remarkable young man as well as
Uiagalelei finished the season with 4,213 yards passing, 48 touchdowns and just two interceptions.
going to Clemson for a reason," De La Salle coach Justin Alumbaugh
said. "He was even better in person than he was on film."
the Spartans closed to a 35-28 on a 2-yard touchdown run by Garrett,
his third score of the night, Uiagalelei responded immediately with
completions of 24, 29 and 11 yards to Loya, before scrambling left and
into the end zone for a 9-yard touchdown, making it 42-28.
He had a team-high 64 yards rushing on five carries to finish the season with 408 yards rushing and eight touchdowns.
wasn't too worried about it," Uiagalelei told the Long Beach
Press-Telegram. "We didn't get very nervous on the sideline. It's just a
ballgame. We just gotta come out and execute."
La Salle (12-2), which is now 7-7 in state-championship play, answered
Uiagalelei's touchdown run with a methodical drive from its own 20,
capped by a 10-yard run by Garrett, all the way to the Bosco 2. Two
plays later, the missed exchanged was picked up by Jordan, who showed
superb speed for a 6-2, 235-pound defensive lineman, racing untouched
the other way.
"For a defensive lineman that was obviously a very impressive play," Negro said. "Honestly, I was just hoping he didn't trip."
hoped he had and fumbled back to the Spartans. But that was asking too
much, as was probably playing a perfect game to beat the No. 1 team in
the nation. It was De La Salle's only turnover of the night after
committing 13 the previous three title games and fumbling 17 times.
asked the Spartans for the best versions of themselves going into the
game. Other than the final flub and 14-point swing, he largely got it.
De La Salle piled up 403 yards, but Bosco amassed 537.
did some real good things, but ultimately we just made too many
mistakes," a subdued Alumbaugh said. "We were piling up the yards and
scoring, but we just couldn't stop them. We missed a couple shots down
field. We needed to put more pressure on their quarterback and had some
breakdowns in the secondary. But we had to play nearly perfect to beat a
team like that.
"It would have been fun to
make it a one-score game. It would have been great and who knows? Our
kids showed a lot of heart and toughness."
As did the Braves.
was a war between our team and their team," Negro said. "It was super
physical. Both teams just kept battling. Both teams got up and kept
fighting. I was just proud of our entire team for that."
He was also proud of fighting off all of De La Salle's challenges.
just wore down a bit," Negro said. "They are so good and so well
conditioned. Justin does an amazing job with the culture of that
program. They just beat you up. I thought they were going to wear down.
It just didn't happen. They continued to battle and those two little
backs they have killed it, their quarterback is a baller. That's a great
program and for us to beat them in that manner by three scores is
Other than a missed
28-yard field goal, De La Salle played a clean first half, but it didn't
really matter. Uiagalelei was brilliant, completing 13-of-15 passes for
176 yards and two touchdowns.
out the pocket, completed throws on the run with the grace of a much
smaller athlete, plus he gained 44 yards on three carries. The 5-star
recruit opened the scoring with a 20-yard touchdown strike to Hutson,
completing an 8-play, 72-yard drive, making it 7-0 with 7:33 left in the
On Bosco's next possession,
Hutson caught an 8-yard pass, but Garrett forced a fumble and Kairo Reed
recovered at the Bosco 23. The Spartans drove to 6, but the drive
stalled and after a procedure call,
drilled a 28-yard field goal that he and the Spartans thought was good.
The referees, however, said it didn't sail inside the right upright and
Bosco had dodged a bullet.
The Braves then
marched right down the field 80 yards in 10 plays, capped by a 7-yard
touchdown run from Rayshon Luke, and looked in command, up 14-0 with
4:54 left in the half.
De La Salle responded. A 30-yard
kickoff return by James Coby set up an 11-play, 63-yard drive, capped
with a nifty 10-yard touchdown run by Hale, cutting Bosco's lead in half
14-7 with 1:38 left in the second quarter.
That was much too
much time for the Uiagalelei, who ran for 17 yards and completed three
passes, including a including a 25-yarder to Hutson.
That set up a 6-yard touchdown dart to Vaughns after scrambling hard to his left. That gave Bosco a 21-7 halftime lead.
Spartans, who had given up just three first-half touchdowns since Sept.
27, had allowed three scores and 289 yards in the first half. They
managed three touchdowns and had a fourth — a 70-yard touchdown bomb to
Zeke Berry — called back by a holding call, but Bosco managed four
"We just couldn't get over the
hump," Alumbaugh said. "It was sad and a bummer because I really wanted
it for our guys. I love this team. The senior group has been great."
had equal love for his seniors, including Uiagalelei, who finished with
more than 10,000 career passing yards and 127 touchdown passes. Most
important, he and the Braves delivered a national crown.
been our goal since day one, you know?" he told the Press-Telegram.
"That's what we've been working for since January, for 11 months, and
I'm just happy to do it."