Sandy • Victory seemed so close or so far, depending how you looked at it.
Jordan had to be comforted by the 28 yards separating St. John Bosco from the end zone on fourth down. But a scrambling Josh Rosen found tight end Nick Lehman with a pass, and suddenly the cushion evaporated.
Losing the lead with only 45 seconds left, the Beetdiggers (5-1), the top-ranked 5A team in the state, came up an extra point short in a 34-33 slugfest with the Braves (now 1-4 after forfeiting four prior wins for using an ineligible player) on Saturday at Rio Tinto Stadium. While Jordan would've preferred the victory it almost grasped, the close contest proved the team could compete with one of the best teams in the nation.
"I think that they took us lightly," Jordan defensive tackle Emmitt Lee-Sang said. "We came out and punched them in the mouth."
The Beetdiggers launched an impressive effort, as Austin Kafentzis led a churning ground game that ate up more than 200 yards on the St. John Bosco defense.
But trouble in the passing game was the ultimate undoing: Kafentzis was intercepted three times, twice by Chandler Hawkins. The sophomore's final throw ended up in the hands of defensive back Brett Baldwin, clinching a Braves win.
By contrast, fellow sophomore Rosen threw St. John Bosco to a win, going 21-for-30 for 277 yards and four touchdowns. A quick rushing attack led by Darren Walker's 136 yards also carved the Braves' path downfield for a handful of quick scoring drives.
While Jordan's drives tended to be pounding, time-consuming affairs, the Braves were keyed by big plays, such as Arlandis Hinton's 56-yard touchdown catch, or Jaleel Wadood's 15-yard run in the first half.
"They've got a lot of team speed, I can tell you that," Jordan coach Eric Kjar said. "It was something we struggled with."
The Jordan defense was not without its moments. Lee-Sang had both a sack and a fumble recovery, and the Beetdiggers finished with three sacks in the game. Still, even when they got good pressure on Rosen, he proved slippery.
The special teams unit ended up being a drawback for Jordan as well. Jeffrey Timothy missed one attempt, then was blocked on his last. The block allowed the Braves to go up after their final score with an extra point.
The Beetdiggers have other long-term concerns: Center B.J. Cavender and running back Clay Moss each went down with ankle injuries and were using crutches after the game.
But it was hard for Kjar to be too upset after watching his team go toe-to-toe with St. John Bosco, even if Jordan took a loss.
"Our kids played hard, I'm proud of that," he said. "They worked their butts off."
Storylines St. John Bosco 34, Jordan 33
R Austin Kafentzis racks up 300 yards of offense and three TDs, but throws three picks.
• Braves sophomore Josh Rosen throws for 277 yards and four touchdowns.
• A pair of missed extra points come back to haunt the Beetdiggers.