Kristin Murphy, Deseret News
SANDY — Jordan's football team more than proved it could compete with one of the best teams in the country on Saturday.
Unfortunately for the 'Diggers, they needed to execute better to actually pull out the victory in the XFinity Challenge.
Jordan missed a pair of extra points, including one late that would've given it a seven-point lead with five minutes remaining. That opened the door for St. John Bosco of Bellflower, Calif., which scored the game-winning touchdown — and extra point — on a fourth-and-6 with 45 seconds remaining to clinch a thrilling 34-33 victory at Rio Tinto Stadium.
The Braves sealed the hard-fought win a few plays later with their third interception of the game.
"They're as good as anybody we've seen in California," said a very complimentary St. John Bosco coach Jason Negro after the game.
Jordan's defense had a chance to clinch the victory after forcing St. John Bosco into a fourth-and-6 from the 28-yard line. Just as he did all game, though, St. John Bosco sophomore quarterback Josh Rosen came up big, rolling out and hitting Nick Lehman on a 28-yard touchdown pass — his fourth of the game — for the winning score.
Jordan's players and coaches refused to blame the missed extra points for its first loss of the season.
"We just left too many plays out there. We had a lot of opportunities and I don't think we took advantage of them well," Jordan coach Eric Kjar said.
Jordan quarterback Austin Kafentzis, who rushed and passed for a pair of touchdowns, shouldered the blame for the loss.
"There were a lot of up-and-down moments, a lot of momentum their way and then it shifted to us. We couldn't hold onto it in the end," Kafentzis said. "We all could've done a little bit more. We're all going to go on the bus ride home and think about all the bad plays we had. Most of the game we did pretty well."
Both offenses set the tone throughout the game, with St. John Bosco racking up 507 yards and Jordan finishing with 397 yards.
Rosen and Kafentzis traded touchdown passes in the first quarter, but St. John Bosco regained the 14-7 lead in the second quarter on a Rosen to Lehman 12-yard TD strike. The 'Diggers eventually tied it at 14-14 before halftime as Kafentzis raced 14 yards with 3:49 remaining in the quarter.
Jordan did most of its damage on the ground in the first half, which wasn't a surprise to the visitors.
"They're as good as anybody in our league and our division up front, and that's not a surprise 'cause everybody knew it," said Negro.
St. John Bosco's offensive line was just as tough. It took the opening drive of the second half and marched 71 yards to take a 21-14 lead on a Jaleel Wood 15-yard run.
After falling behind for the third time, Jordan finally got its passing game going as Kafentzis completed six passes on a 13-play drive that Clay Moss capped with a 4-yard TD run midway through the third quarter. St. John Bosco still led 21-20 after the missed extra point.
The Braves answered right back with a Rosen touchdown pass, but they also missed the extra point and led 27-20 with 3:53 remaining.
Early in the fourth quarter, a costly St. John Bosco fumble allowed Jordan to tie the game at 27-27 on a Kafentzis 5-yard run.
Incredibly, St. John Bosco coughed it up again, setting Jordan up with great field position, and Kafentzis capitalized by hitting Andrew Wilcox on a 15-yard TD pass with 5:27 remaining to give Jordan its first lead at 33-27.
Even though Jordan's offense and defense both squandered chances to seal the win in those final minutes, Kafentzis reflected positively on the experience.
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