Crusaders start fast, hold off Wolves to win
- Miles Vance
- Beaverton Valley Times - Sports
Jesuit leads 22-0 before Tualatin wakes up and challenges Friday night
BEAVERTON - Jesuit's plan for its second-round Class 6A state playoff football game against Tualatin was pretty simple - run the ball like nobody's business, play defense like your life depends on it, and don't turn the ball over.
The Crusaders succeeded on only two of those three fronts - losing three fumbles and throwing two interceptions in the game - but it was still enough to power Jesuit past the Timberwolves 22-14 at Jesuit High School and into the state quarterfinals. There, the Crusaders will host Tigard at 7 p.m. Friday. For more on that match-up, please see the story on Page A13.
'It wasn't a perfect game. That's what we're always striving for,' said junior tailback AJ Glass, who ran for 209 yards on 42 carries. But 'our defense was what really stepped up tonight.'
'We wanted to come out here, get ourselves a win and move on to the next round,' said senior lineman Dom Mori. 'I'm proud of our defense for stepping up and coming to the party.'
That Jesuit defense limited the Wolves to 105 yards in total offense and to just minus-19 on the ground, an effort that helped the Crusaders avenge last year's 26-22 loss in the state semifinals.
'They were a strong team, just like last year when they came out and beat us,' said sophomore defensive end Christian Martinek. 'We came back strong in the game this year and took the win.'
'It's an incredible experience every time we play Tualatin because they're so well-coached, they're so well-disciplined,' Mori added. 'And it was incredible to come out here and play tonight, extra special because these are the guys that beat us last year.'
Metro co-champion Jesuit improved to 8-3 with the win, while the Timberwolves saw their season end at 8-3 after a second-place finish in the Pacific Conference.
Jesuit definitely owned Friday's first half, starting fast and grabbing a 22-0 lead midway through the third quarter before the Timberwolves began to rally. After stopping Tualatin's first series on four plays, the Crusaders drove 55 yards to the Tualatin 5 before their own possession short-circuited. Quarterback Nicholas Rothstein broke off a 47-yard run to push his teamdeep into Wolves' territory, but Tualatin's defense and a holding penalty stopped the Crusaders there. They were forced to settle for a 28-yard Ryan Cope field goal and a 3-0 lead.
Tualatin's next try ended in just three plays when Brady Brajavich fumbled the ball away after catching a Travis Johnson pass, and Jesuit's Harrison Bruce recovered at the Wolves' 30-yard line. From there, the Crusaders went to Glass five straight times, and Glass and his offensive line delivered, eventually scoring on a 10-yard third-down carry. Cope's extra point made it 10-0 with 3 minutes, 47 seconds to go in the opening quarter.
The Wolves stopped Jesuit's first series of the second quarter with a Brajavich interception, but the Crusaders forced a Tualatin punt, then drove 53 yards for another touchdown. The big play on that drive was a 39-yard Rothstein-to-Adam Winterling completion that took the ball to the Tualatin 3-yard line, and Rothstein capped that possession with a 1-yard TD plunge to make it 16-0 at the half.
Jesuit then drove 89 yards to open the second half and extend its lead to 22-0 on another 1-yard Rothstein run, that score set up by Glass' 71 burst over the left side.
But the Timberwolves weren't done yet, not by a long shot.
The Wolves began to rally there, shut out Jesuit the rest of the way, and drove 65 yards on their ensuing series to finally get on the scoreboard. Johnson hit Aireon Tavarres on the right side for 48 yards to jumpstart their offense, and two plays later, Johnson connected with Zach Salton on an 18-yard scoring strike to the right flag. Nathan Suyematsu added the extra point to cut the gap to 22-7.
Then, after Austin Green recovered a Glass fumble at the Tualatin 38 early in the fourth period, the Wolves' offense was back in business. Tualatin drove 62 yards to score, with Johnson going 4-of-8 on the drive for 53 yards - two of those to Kevin MacPherson for 26 yards - and Jeffrey Williams bulling into the end zone from 1 yard out to close within 22-14 with 5:11 left on the clock.
Five plays later, Tualatin's Brady Watts recovered another Glass fumble and the Timberwolves had their last chance with 3:07 to go at the Jesuit 47. But Tualatin came up empty on four plays, with Johnson missing on three passes and Rothstein sacking him on the other play. Jesuit then killed the clock to close out its win.
'Their defense was fast. They put nine guys in the box and hit every play. I got pretty beat up, but you know what?' Glass said. 'Never quitting
and determination and heart wins the game every time.'
'It was a good game tonight, but since day one, our coaches have said no one can beat us,' Mori added. 'The only ones who can beat us is ourselves.'
For the game, Rothstein ran 16 times for yards, and Winterling led Jesuit receivers with one catch for 39 yards. Watts ran 11 times for 16 yards to lead the Wolves' rushing attack, and Tavarres made two catches for 69 yards.
To see a complete photo gallery from this game, please go to www.milesvance.exposuremanager.com.