For St. John Bosco, the road to its Oct. 12 showdown with Mater Dei nearly took a quick detour last Friday night, courtesy of a determined J.Serra team that held them even — at least for a half.

But four touchdowns by George Holani helped St. John Bosco survive its toughest test of the season as the Braves defeated J.Serra, 35-28, in the Trinity League opener for both schools Sept. 28 in Bellflower.

The battle of unbeatens saw underdog J.Serra capitalize on three turnovers to grab a 21-14 first half lead at Parish Family Stadium, before Holani — who rushed for 160 yards — scored late in the second quarter to tie the game at 21 going into the locker room.

Two Holani TDs in the second half were enough for the Braves — No. 1 nationally and in the CIF-Southern Section Division 1 poll entering the game — to outlast the sixth-ranked Lions.

Elsewhere in the powerful Trinity League, Mater Dei, No. 2 to the Braves in the aforementioned polls, raced to a 35-0 win over No. 10 Servite, running its record to 5-1 (with a forfeit loss), while Santa Margarita was edged by Orange Lutheran, 39-37.

This week, St. John Bosco (6-0) hosts Orange Lutheran (4-2); Mater Dei (5-1) takes on Santa Margarita (2-4); and J.Serra (5-1) hosts Servite (3-2).

Bishop Amat wins thriller

In the Mission League (which includes both D-1 and D-2 teams), seventh-ranked Bishop Amat edged No. 9 Chaminade 28-27 in a battle of ranked D-1 schools in West Hills. Quarterback Blake Archuleta passed for 221 yards and led the Lancers’ game winning drive that culminated in Kenny Collins’ two-yard TD run with 4:30 remaining.

Alemany downed Loyola 34-8 to keep pace with Bishop Amat in the Mission League, as did Notre Dame (Sherman Oaks) which beat Serra 38-7.

The Del Rey League saw St. Paul (No. 3 in D-3) go to 5-1 with a 48-7 triumph over La Salle, while St. Anthony fell 28-21 to Harvard-Westlake.

In other league games, St. Bonaventure (No, 7 in D-4) stopped Newbury Park 20-14 (Marmonte); Malibu edged Santa Clara 28-26 (Citrus Coast); Grace Brethren doubled up on Bishop Diego 42-21 (Camino); and Upland blanked Damien 35-0 (Baseline).

Among non-league games, Cathedral got back into the winning column, 42-10 over La Mirada; St. Francis outscored Mayfair 51-41; St. Genevieve beat Agoura 28-20; St. Pius X-St. Matthias shut out Carnegie (Riverside) 40-0; Salesian did likewise to Cantwell-Sacred Heart 43-0; St. Monica made it three straight, 49-12 over Southlands Christian; and Don Bosco Tech beat New Designs Watts 2-0 by forfeit.

But St. Bernard (No. 4 in D-13) lost 42-21 to Brentwood. Other non-league results: Cornerstone Christian (San Antonio) 28, Paraclete 27; Sierra Canyon 60, Crespi 13; Simi Valley 42, Mary Star of the Sea 0; and Gardena 20, Bishop Montgomery 15. Verbum Dei was idle.

In Eight-Man Football, Villanova (fifth in D-1) bounced Maricopa 68-0, but St. Michael’s Prep (seventh in D-2) lost its first game, 44-0 to Calvary Chapel (Downey).

Mike Nelson is the former editor of the Tidings (predecessor of Angelus News).

Start your day with Always Forward, our award-winning e-newsletter. Get this smart, handpicked selection of the day’s top news, analysis and opinion, delivered to your inbox. Sign up absolutely free today!