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LB Poly pulls off victory over top-seeded St. John Bosco
LONG BEACH - The last time St. John Bosco and Long Beach Poly faced off on the football field, the year was 2004 and the Jackrabbits went on to a dominating victory en route to a CIF title.
Eight years has passed, and the result remained the same, with Poly edging top-seeded Bosco, 13-10, in a Pac-5 semifinal Friday night at Veterans Stadium.
Poly (10-3) moves on to the Pac-5 final on Dec. 1 at Angel Stadium against Mater Dei riding a nine-game winning streak.
With 1:26 to play and St. John Bosco trailing by three but threatening at its own 45-yard line, Poly defensive back John Smith jumped the route and intercepted the Rosen pass, returning it 50 yards and putting the finishing touch on the Jackrabbits victory.
After a dismal first-half performance offensively, the Braves fought back to take a 10-6 lead with a 10-point third quarter.
St. John Bosco's (8-5) comeback started with a 43-yard field goal from Reid Budrovich at the 7:30 mark of the third.
With 3:37 remaining in the third, Naijiel Hale intercepted a Tai Tiedemann pass and returned it 64 yards for a touchdown.
The comeback was short-lived, however, as the Jackrabbits responded with a 76-yard touchdown drive capped off by a 1-yard run from Tiedemann, sending Poly back to the CIF finals for the first time since 2008.
St. John Bosco was fortunate to only trail 6-0 at halftime. The Braves finished the first half with just 36 yards of offense as Poly's defense looked as stout as ever, allowing just one first down.
Poly's defense held Braves leading rusher Darren Walker to 21 yards on 10 carries. Quarterback Josh Rosen was just 3 of 8 passing for 8 yards.
While the Braves struggled to move the ball downfield, Poly looked fluid offensively behind Wicks. The senior running back rushed for 85 first-half yards on 12 carries, including the only score of the opening half.
The Jackrabbits offense amassed 239 yards in the first half, including a 33-yard run by Haley McGinest on a fake punt, catching St. John Bosco off guard. The play resulted in a Poly first down.
Poly was unable to capitalize on the trickery, however, as a holding penalty on third-and-4 forced the Jackrabbits into a punt.
If there were any negatives to speak of for Poly in the first half it was in the realm of discipline. The Jackrabbits committed eight penalties for 45 yards.
Wicks paced the Braves offensively with 125 yards and a touchdown on 26 carries.
St. John Bosco finished with 114 yards of offense with Darren Walker leading the way with 47 yards on 16 carries.