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Stopped in the semis

Jesuit sees Sheldon pull away late to win 35-28 in the 6A semis


by: MILES VANCE - TOUGH RESULT - Jesuit junior Carlos Coleman (No. 8) consoles teammate Xavier Coleman at the end of Jesuit's 35-28 loss in the state semifinals on Saturday at Jeld-Wen Field.

PORTLAND — The Jesuit football team has been knocking on the door of greatness for a very long time.

Playing in the state semifinals for the fifth straight year, the Crusaders saw Jeld-Wen Field turn into a graveyard for their greatest hopes a second straight time. A year ago, Jesuit saw a last-second chance to tie Lake Oswego go sour, while on Saturday, the Crusaders were dead-even with Sheldon for three quarters before finally coming up on the short end of a 35-28 defeat in the Class 6A state semifinals.by: MILES VANCE - TOUCHDOWN MAN - Jesuit senior tailback AJ Glass high-steps into the end zone to score in front of linemen (from left) Andrew Kirkland, Ryan Brown, Dominic Baldocchi, Doug Brenner and Max Rich during Saturday's Class 6A state semifinal at Jeld-Wen Field.

The loss ended Jesuit’s year at 10-3 after a second-place finish in the Metro League, while the Southern Oregon Conference champion Irish improved to 13-0 and advanced to meet Lake Oswego in Saturday’s Class 6A state title contest at 1 p.m.

“It’s tough, but they played hard, Sheldon did, and we played with reckless abandon,” said senior tailback AJ Glass, who carried 33 times for 198 yards and two touchdowns. “The offensive line played their hearts out, all the backs, everyone. All the athletes played their hearts out and we gave it everything we had. Sometimes it just doesn’t go your way.”

“We came out. We played our hardest. We left everything on the field. We gave it our all,” said senior wide receiver/defensive back Xavier Coleman, who made two catches for 62 yards and one score, and also led his team with eight tackles. “That’s all the coaches were asking for and we gave it our all. We just made a couple mistakes. That was all.”

“We could have done better here, but everyone played their asses off. That’s for sure,” added junior defensive end/quarterback Christian Martinek, who gave his team an early stop on Saturday with a first-quarter interception.

First Half

Neither team was particularly effective early in Saturday’s contest. Martinek picked off a Taylor Alie pass on the game’s third play to give his team possession at the Sheldon 44-yard line, but Jesuit was unable to capitalize, misfiring on a third-down flea-flicker pass from Martinek to Henry Mondeaux and punting the ball away on the next play.

The Jesuit “D” got another stop on Sheldon’s second offensive series, that effort highlighted by tackles behind the line by Crusader linebackers Joey Alfieri and Mike Mueller. Again, however, Jesuit couldn’t turn that stop into points, punting the ball away in four plays for the second straight time.

The Irish would not be denied on their next try, marching 63 yards in eight plays and grabbing a 7-0 lead with 3 minutes, 43 seconds left in the first quarter when Alie rolled right, then threw back to Connor Strahm for an 11-yard score at the left flag.

On that drive, Alie went 5-for-5 to help his team overcome an illegal block penalty, connecting once with Ivan Faulhaber for 13 yards, once with Mitch Lewis for 15 more, and once with Strahm for a 28-yard pickup to the Jesuit 10-yard line.

Things got worse before they got better for Jesuit, too. The Crusaders, facing a third-and-seven at the Sheldon 41-yard line on their ensuing series, turned the ball over when Elliott Nistler’s hard throw bounced off tight end Henry Mondeaux and was intercepted by Lewis at the 36.

From there, the Irish drove in for their second score, going 64 yards in 12 plays and taking 3:38 off the clock to grab a 14-0 lead. The capper there came on a third-and-11 play from the 15 when Alie scrambled for time, then connected with Yadie Dunmore over the middle for the touchdown with 9:55 to go in the first half.

Alie led the way again on that march, hitting on 4-of-6 throws for 42 yards and also running three times for 12 yards.

The Crusaders flamed out on their next drive, too, with Nistler’s fourth-and-six pass to Trent Werner falling incomplete at the Sheldon 11-yard line. But the Jesuit defense came through after allowing two first downs on the Irish’s ensuing series, with Mondeaux stuffing Strahm for a four-yard loss, and on the next play, Alfieri picking off an Alie pass aimed at Lewis on the left sideline.

From there, at its own 24-yard line with 3:14 to go in the half, Jesuit went to its power running game. Operating much of the time with Mondeaux and Alfieri lined up in front of Glass, the Crusaders began to pound away at Sheldon.

Glass carried five times for 32 yards, sophomore Chase Morrison ran four times for 26 more, and Alfieri ended the deal with a three-yard run over left guard to score with no time left on the clock. Patrick Carley then added the first of his four extra points to make it 14-7 at the half.

Second Half

Buoyed by that late TD and determined to build on the success of its running game, Jesuit opened the second half with a nine-play, 80-yard sledgehammer of a drive behind its powerful offensive line — tackles Andrew Kirkland and Max Rich, guards Dominic Baldocchi and Charlie Landgraf, center Doug Brenner and Mondeaux at tight end.

Morrison ripped off a 37-yard run for one first down, Glass and Alfieri teamed for another, Morrison added another 10-yard run, and Glass finished up from there with back-to-back six-yard runs, the second of those for a TD that tied the score at 14-14 with 7:48 remaining in the third period.

“At halftime, we talked about putting it on our offensive line’s back, and we came out on fire and got off the ball,” Brenner said. “I was proud of how we did in the second half.”

The Irish answered in just four plays, however, first getting a big kickoff return from Dunmore, then a 46-yard Alie-to-Justin Brabham completion on third down, and finally, a seven-yard Alie scramble around right end for a 21-14 lead with 6:34 to go in the third.

Jesuit stuck with its running game and put together another impressive scoring drive, this time marching 70 yards in nine plays to tie the game again at 21-21. Glass, Morrison and their offensive line just flat got it done there, with Morrison running four times for 22 yards and Glass doing the rest, putting together carries of 11, 5, 22, 9 and finally, one yard to score with 2:31 to go in the third period.

But when the Irish blasted back with another lightning scoring drive — they pushed ahead 28-21 on an eight-yard TD run by Lewis just 49 seconds later — it spelled the beginning of the end for Jesuit. Alie was deadly again, hitting on 4-of-5 passes for 41 yards on the drive.

Jesuit managed one first down on its next series, but saw Glass stopped by Mike Ralston and Lewis on a fourth-and-three play at the Sheldon 26-yard line, a stop that set the table for Sheldon’s final, game-clinching scoring drive.

Starting from their own 26, the Irish went, predictably, with their complex passing scheme and timely running game. First, Jesuit was whistled for pass interference on a Strahm throw to Alie, Lewis took a dive for 15 yards, and Alie connected with Strahm for 11 more.

Lewis went up the middle for 13 yards, Alie added one with a throw to Faulhaber, and then, on third-and-nine, Alie pump-faked to the left side, then lofted a TD pass to Mitchell Herbert at the left flag for a 24-yard score with 10:02 remaining in the game.

“We definitely thought we had the momentum, that’s for sure,” Martinek said. “But when our defense couldn’t stop them once or twice, that’s when it kind of fell apart.”

The Crusaders responded with a lightning strike of their own, with Glass picking up 12 yards on first down, and Nistler then going long to Coleman on the right sideline, where he muscled past Sheldon defender Dylan Lewis for the catch and 56-yard score.

Jesuit’s defense then forced stops on each of Sheldon’s next two possessions, but it’s offense couldn’t take advantage of its chances to tie the game. On their first try, the Crusaders pounded ahead with Glass and his offensive line advancing as far as the Irish 26. But there, at the end of a six-yard Glass pickup, Jesuit was whistled for a personal foul that cost it 15 yards and a down, and on fourth-and-14 from the 40, Martinek’s pass to Coleman sailed out of bounds.

Then, on its final series with 2:07 to go, Jesuit fell short on four downs, with Morrison stopped for no gain on a fourth-and-three try from its own 27 and Sheldon ran out the clock from there.

“I’m just so proud of how we fought tonight,” Brenner said. “Sheldon is a great team, and I hope for the best for them in the championship. We capitalized on the opportunities we had, but Sheldon played a great game.”

For the game, Morrison carried 14 times for 128 yards and Alfieri eight times for 51 more, but Nistler hit on just 4-of-14 throws for 71 yards. For Sheldon, Strahm carried six times for 43 yards, Alie went 23-of-34 for 296 yards with two picks and three TDs, with Dylan Lewis making six catches for 82 yards, Strahm five for 71 and Brabham three for 68.

To see a complete photo gallery from this game, please visit milesvance.exposuremanager.com.



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