Braves Outlast Cubs To Stay Perfect

Behind the play of senior quarterback Keith Price, the Braves jump on top of the Cubs in first half and hold on for their fourth win of the season…

Coming into Friday night's much-anticipated matchup in Bellflower, both the St. John Bosco Braves and the Loyola Cubs were looking to build on their successful 2008 campaigns. The Cubs of Loyola, despite falling short of an upset victory over top ranked De La Salle of Concord, were looking to continue what has been a revitalization of a once storied program. On the other side of the field were the Braves of St. John Bosco, led by senior quarterback Keith Price, the Braves were looking to remain undefeated as they were playing in their home opener, four games into the season.

Some might have expected the game to be an offensive showcase as Saint John Bosco was coming off a sixty-four-point performance against Cabrillo in the previous week, and Loyola featured one of the state's top juniors in running back Anthony Barr. However, while that was certainly the case for St. John Bosco, Loyola struggled out of the gate to produce any points, but had its worse luck in trying to stop the Braves offense.

The Braves came out of the gates with a purpose and intensity, scoring 34 unanswered points, and scoring on each of their first five possessions. Price led the way for the offense, passing for four touchdowns before Loyola was able to put any points on the board. Late in the second quarter, Loyola was finally able to score when senior quarterback Stephen Rokus connected with his backfield mate Barr for a 23-yard touchdown strike to make the count 34-7, St. John Bosco with 4:34 remaining in the first half.

St. John Bosco was not done yet in the first half, however, as Price led an impressive drive down the field for yet another score. Starting at their own 20-yard line, Price either did it himself with his impressive running ability, or gave it up to his tailback, senior Austin Mahr, who had an impressive evening, dissecting his way through the Cubs' defense. With less than a minute to go in the first half, Price connected with senior receiver Joe Pelletier on 2nd and 10 for a 40-yard touchdown strike. After the extra point, the Braves led going into halftime by a score of 41-7, much to the delight of the home crowd.

Much credit is due to the Cubs of Loyola, as they did not simply yield in the second half. Whatever head coach Jeff Kearin said to his squad certainly had an effect, as the Cubs played with far more moxie in the third quarter. On their first possession of the second half, Barr was a forced as he ran his team to an impressive opening touchdown drive. After having moved their way to the fifty-yard line, Barr took the 1st and 10 handoff to the left, broke a couple tackles, and ran his way for the big score. At 6'4" and 225 pounds, Barr is certainly a load to bring down, but he showed that there is definitely some speed to his game.

Despite building such a tremendous lead, St. John Bosco did not let up, playing aggressive offensive football well into the second half. The fact that the Braves only managed to add a field goal to their score was not so much a fault of their offense, but a credit to Loyola's defense buckling down and playing with more intensity. It was a tale of two halves for Loyola, as their defense failed to make the routine tackles in the first, but in the second, the Cubs' defenders were constantly in the backfield and putting pressure on the Brave ball carriers.

To close out the third quarter, Barr muscled into the endzone to make the score 44-21, following the extra point. To set up the drive, Barr again showcased more than just his power by breaking a huge 36-yard run from the Braves' 41-yard line.

The Cubs added another touchdown on their first possession of the fourth quarter. Rokus connected with senior Brett Ackerman to make the score 44-28. While the Cubs' offense threatened, the game was well in control for Price and the Braves as they bled out the clock to seal the deal.

St. John Bosco remains undefeated at 4-0. Next week, they will play host to the 2-1 St. Paul Swordsmen. Loyola falls to 2-2 on the season and will host the Hart Indians in Glendale.

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