Lakers hold off Jesuit 21-13 to earn spot in title game
The semifinal game at Jeld-Wen Field between Jesuit and Lake Oswego came down to the last second and the last tiny bit of artificial turf.
A trip to the state championship was not in the cards for the Crusaders, though. Time was too short and the field was too long.
With 20 seconds remaining, Lake Oswego led 21-13.
Jesuit quarterback Nick Rothstein completed a 34-yard pass to Henry Mondeaux to the Lake Oswego 3.
Crusaders running back Morgan Sellers then tried to pound the ball into the end zone, but he was stopped cold at the line of scrimmage, with 11 seconds to go.
A very bad feeling ran through Sellers when he failed to cross the goal line.
'I was kind of kicking myself for not getting across,' he said. 'I had a feeling the clock was going to wind down. I didn't think there was that much time left.'
Jesuit tried to get its players lined up for another play. The Crusaders snapped the ball with two seconds remaining. Rothstein spiked the ball to stop the clock, but it was too late. The clock had hit zero. The Lakers had secured the 21-13 victory, and time had run out on the Crusaders' season.
'There was a lot of chaos going on down there,' Rothstein said. 'A lot of people laying around. The ball just didn't get set, and we couldn't get it off fast enough.'
The Oregon School Activities Association Class 6A semifinal was everything that Lakers coach Steve Coury figured it would be.
'I said before we were going to play that two good teams are playing and one good team is going to be done,' Coury said. 'That's the case. I'm thankful it's not us.'
The Lakers will face Sheldon in an epic state championship game between 13-0 teams at 1 p.m. next Saturday at Jeld-Wen Field.
The game between Jesuit and Lake Oswego was a contrast in offensive styles.
The Crusaders (9-4) had 391 yards of total offense, playing smash-mouth football. Of Jesuit's 68 offensive plays, 58 came on the ground. Sellers led the way with 184 yards on 32 carries. Jesuit dominated time of possession, 30:59-17:01. When the Crusaders did pass, they were lethal. Rothstein completed 7 of 9 for 102 yards.
The Lakers were more balanced, surgical and opportunistic on offense. They totaled 322 yards. Running back Steven Long and quarterback Alex Matthews combined for 71 yards on the ground. Matthews was 17 of 23 passing for 251 yards and three TDs.
'They were a lot bigger than us up front, and we knew they were going to pound the ball,' Lakers receiver Stevie Coury said. '(On offense) we just had to get our playmakers the ball.'
Lake Oswego got to the 4-yard on its opening possession, before a dropped pass in the end zone on fourth down gave the Crusaders the ball.
Jesuit methodically marched down the field on run after run. Seventeen plays later, Sellers capped off the 96-yard, 8-minute, 44-second drive with a 3-yard TD run.
'I cut back and there was no one there,' Sellers said.
Lake Oswego evened the score at 7-7 when Matthews hit Connor Griffin with a 12-yard TD pass.
'I knew it was coming to me, and I was just ready,' Griffin said.
The Crusaders took a 10-7 lead into halftime when Ryan Cope drilled a 33-yard field goal at the end of the second quarter.
Steve Coury's message to his players at halftime was to keep their heads up.
'I told our kids, 'Hey, we act like we're down 30 points - it's 10-7,' ' Coury said. ''We're down three points, we're one play away from taking the lead, one play away from winning the game.''
The players took Coury's advice.
With 7:40 remaining in the third quarter, Griffin found himself open downfield. Matthews lobbed a pass to him, and Griffin trotted into the end zone for a 30-yard TD that put the Lakers up 14-10.
'There was no one around me, so it was just a smart choice by our quarterback to throw it there,' Griffin said.
Jesuit inched close to Lake Oswego when Cope hit a 24-yard field goal that made the score 14-13.
The Lakers delivered their final blow to the Crusaders with 7:34 left in the fourth quarter. Matthews connected with Zach Walden for a 27-yard TD pass.
Jesuit coach Ken Potter said that he was proud of the Crusaders for coming so close to victory.
'I'm extremely proud of the team,' Potter said. 'Win, lose or draw, you're proud of the kids for the effort they give. The kids left it on the field and gave everything they have. Unfortunately, we didn't get a play to run, but we were on the 3-yard line as time expires with an opportunity to tie the game.'