FORT LAUDERDALE — Defending national champion St. John Bosco (Calif.) methodically ended host St. Thomas Aquinas’ 27-game winning streak with a 20-7 victory on Saturday afternoon.
Braves senior quarterback Caleb Sanchez completed 36 of 48 passes for 349 yards and two touchdowns to hand the host Raiders their first defeat since a 24-21 loss at Tampa Jesuit on Sept. 3, 2021. Further, it was the Raiders’ first home setback since a 17-10 setback to Cardinal Gibbons on Oct. 23, 2020.
St. John Bosco, who also won the California state championship last season and is ranked No.1 in the nation, according to MaxPreps, amassed 461 yards and limited the Raiders to 160 total.
“They capitalized on our mistakes and statistically it is hard to win games against good teams when you lose the turnover battle,” said St. Thomas Aquinas coach Roger Harriott, whose team lost a fumble and an interception. “They had a number of penalties that we could have advanced on, but we have to make sure we take care of the ball and execute with precision when those opportunities present themselves.”
“We are not so much disappointed,” he added. “We’re frustrated. There were some opportunities there where the score could have flipped the other way. They did a great job moving the ball offensively and our defense was on the field too long.”
The loss also marked just the third setback to an out-of-state team in 18 games, the last one coming against Las Vegas’ Bishop Gorman, 25-24 in 2016 in triple overtime.
St. John Bosco (2-0) took the early lead in the ESPN nationally televised game as it drove 87 yards in six plays to take a 7-0 lead in the game that was part of the second annual Broward National High School Football Showcase.
Sanchez found sophomore Daniel Odom in front of the Raiders’ bench where he outwrestled Raiders’ senior defensive back Romanas Frederique for the ball and took it to the end zone from 45 yards out with 2:35 remaining in the first quarter.
St. John Bosco held the potent Raiders offense in check for the first half as they stifled the four-time defending Florida state champion (0-1) by allowing just 44 total yards, with 13 yards rushing. The Braves finished the first half with 191 total yards. Ohio State commit Jordan Lyle ran for just 17 yards on 9 attempts for the Raiders.
Sanchez was efficient in the first half as he completed 17 of 23 passes for 172 yards and a score. He completed passes to eight different receivers in the opening half against the No. 6-ranked team in the nation.
The Braves put together a 17-play, 78-yard drive at the end of the first half and threatened to extend their lead. Sanchez hit sophomore Madden Williams for a 3-yard gain to the Raiders’ 2, but they couldn’t punch it in. Twice the Braves lined up for a short field goal attempt from 19 yards away but called timeout twice before deciding to go for the touchdown.
St. John Bosco senior running back Cameron Jones was stopped for a 1-yard gain by St. Thomas Aquinas senior linebacker Nick Rodriguez to end the half.
The Raiders forced a third-quarter punt and senior Allen Bryant returned the kick 45 yards to the Braves’ 23. Two plays later senior James Madison II hauled in a 20-yard scoring pass from junior Andrew Indorf to knot the game at 7-7 with 9:52 remaining in the period.
“They had a really good team and played a really good game,” said Madison, a Missouri commit who finished with a team-high 7 catches, 57 yards, and one score. “We just couldn’t get the ball rolling, but at the end of the day, I think we’ll come back and play a thousand times better than we did today.
“I think this was a good game for (Indorf) to play because he can only get better,” Madison continued. “I think he will be more than ready down the road, and I think we will bounce back from this definitely.”
St. John Bosco took the ensuing kickoff and marched 67 yards to set up a 30-yard field goal by senior kicker Marcus Lee to give the Braves the lead for good at 10-7 with 4:25 left in the third.
Sanchez capped an 11-play, 80-yard drive with a 7-yard touchdown pass to Williams to extend the lead to 17-7 with 10:19 left in the game. Lee connected on a 31-yard field goal to close out the scoring with 3:10 left. Williams finished with a team-leading nine catches for 79 yards and a score.
St. Thomas couldn’t generate much in Indorf’s first career start. Indorf, who saw action in just one game last year off the bench, finished 14 of 23 for 117 yards, a TD and an interception.
“We have a lot of good football ahead of us,” Harriott said. “This was a great game for some of our more inexperienced players. Our quarterback did a good job managing the game, but when the time comes he’ll make better decisions.
“(Andrew) just has to make sure that he capitalizes on the reads and the schemes that the defenses give you,” he added. “He just has to use his eyes a little better and execute and move the chains.”
The only other time the two had faced each other was a 9-3 win for the Raiders in 2017.