The Crusaders never get their final chance to score, fall 21-13 to Lake Oswego
PORTLAND - One more play.
One more chance.
One more tick of the clock.
The Jesuit football team would have given anything for just one of those at the end of its 21-13 loss to Lake Oswego in the Class 6A state semifinals at Jeld-Wen Field on Saturday.
But when game officials disallowed the Crusaders' last play from scrimmage - an attempt to spike the ball and stop the clock at the Lakers' 3-yard line - they also took away Jesuit's last opportunity at victory. With the loss, the Metro League co-champion Crusaders saw their season end at 9-4, and also saw their last chance at reaching the
state championship game end as well. Instead, the Three Rivers League champion Lakers (13-0) will meet Southwest Conference champion Sheldon (13-0) in the Class 6A state championship at 1 p.m. Saturday at Jeld-Wen Field.
'It's a tough way to go out,' said senior tailback Morgan Sellers, who had 32 carries for 186 yards and a touchdown against LO. 'We thought we'd have enough time. We thought we'd get one more play.'
'We thought we were ready and set, but there was a lot of chaos going on around,' said Jesuit senior quarterback
Nicholas Rothstein, who ran for 49 yards and also completed 8-of-10 passes for 108 yards. 'As a team, we were ready, but I guess we just didn't get it off in time.'
'We have our Navy Seal creed that we go by - 'We never give up,'' said senior wide receiver Robert Strys. 'We did that, but it just didn't go our way.'
The loss snapped Jesuit's four-game winning streak, and also ended a memorable season that started with a lot of promise and potential, but also some serious questions after big losses to both Lake Oswego (49-21) and Sheldon (52-37) in the non-league schedule.
But the Crusaders came together after their 2-2 run in non-league play, went 4-1 in Metro action and earned a league co-championship, then won three straight times in the playoffs to reach Saturday's semifinal. For all those reasons, as well as the team's gutsy effort against the Lakers on Saturday, Jesuit's players left the field with their heads held high on Saturday.
'It's just been a really great year,' said sophomore tight end Henry Mondeaux, who had two catches for 68 yards, including a 34-yard grab that gave his team a first down at the Laker 3-yard line inside the final 30 seconds. 'I'll remember all the friendships I've made this year. I really like all the guys on the team this year. That's been the biggest thing for me.'
'I couldn't be happier that I got the privilege to play for the coaching staff and I got to play for and the team I got to play with,' Rothstein said. 'We put our helmets on and we were just ready to work.'
The Crusaders went to work right away on Saturday, but had to survive a potent attack by the Lakers on the first series of the game. LO quarterback Alex Matthews completed three straight passes for 66 yards on that game-opening drive, the last of those a 12-yarder to Jack Anderson that gave the Lakers a first down at the Jesuit 12-yard line.
From there, Steven Long carried twice to the Jesuit 4-yard line, but Matthews' third-down pass fell incomplete, and his fourth-down throw to Zach Walen in the left corner of the end zone seemed destined to turn into a touchdown but was knocked out of Walen's hands at the last moment by Jesuit senior Drew DeMarco.
Jesuit took over there and launched its lone touchdown drive of the game, marching 96 yards in 18 plays to take a 6-0 lead when Sellers took a handoff up the middle, broke through the line untouched and raced 33 yards to score. Sellers had nine carries on the drive for 63 yards, while Rothstein went 3-for-3 for 17 more yards, and Ryan Cope added the extra point to make it 7-0.
The Lakers answered in kind, taking the ensuing kickoff and putting together an 80-yard drive to tie the game at 7-7 three minutes into the second quarter. Matthews was nearly flawless on that series, connecting on six straight passes without a miss for 58 yards, the last 12 of those on a slant pass over the left side to Connor Griffin for the score. Harrison Greenberg added the extra point to tie the contest.
Jesuit had a golden opportunity to re-take the lead on its next possession, but saw that opportunity short-circuit when the Crusaders committed the first of their three turnovers. Starting from its own 20, Jesuit drove 67 yards to the Laker 13-yard line behind Sellers and his offensive line - center Dom Mori, guards, Dominic Baldocchi and Austin Griffin, tackles Max Rich and Andrew Kirkland, and Mondeaux - but Sellers fumbled the ball there and Evan Scheuerlein recovered for the Lakers.
Undeterred, the Jesuit defense forced a three-and-out - with junior Doug Brenner batting away a Matthews pass on third down - and the Crusaders took over at their own 39-yard line following a Laker punt.
From there, Sellers carried three times for 18 yards, Strys took an end around for six more, Rothstein hit senior wide receiver Adam Winterling twice for 16 yards, then scrambled for 12 more to set up Cope's 34-yard field goal on the final play of the half and a 10-7 lead.
Jesuit came up empty on its first series of the third quarter, and Lake Oswego came back with a 63-yard touchdown drive to take its first lead of the game. Matthews hit Anderson for 13 yards on that series, connected with Stevie Coury for 13 more, then found Griffin alone in the right corner of the end zone for a 30-yard TD and a 14-10 lead with 7:40 to go in the stanza.
The Crusaders kept pounding with their running game, though, driving deep into LO territory again after the ensuing kickoff. Rothstein connected with Mondeaux for 34 yards over the left side on that drive, while Sellers had six runs for 33 yards, and AJ Glass added 17 more on three tries to set the table for Cope's second field goal, this one a 23-yarder that cut the Laker lead to 14-13 with 11 seconds to go in the third.
LO came back strong on its next possession, though, getting a pass interference call to extend its drive, and later, a 28-yard Matthews-to-Walen TD pass at the right flag. Greenberg added the PAT to make it 21-13 with 7:34 left in the game.
Jesuit saw its next possession end in another turnover - Rothstein's throw to Strys from near midfield was picked off by Anderson at the Crusader 16 with 4:56 remaining - but that was just the start of a late-game roller coaster for both teams.
From there, Long picked up 22 yards on four carries, but fumbled the ball back to Jesuit - it was recovered by Corbin Craven at the Laker 38-yard line - on a first-down carry with 3:38 to play.
Jesuit then pushed ahead to the LO 22-yard line - thanks in great part to a 14-yard Strys run - but put the ball on the ground again, with Rothstein fumbling at the end of a 5-yard pickup and LO's Jordan Horak recovering at the 17 with 1:39 left on the clock.
The Crusaders didn't quit, however, and forced a Laker punt after three downs that provided one last try from the Jesuit 46-yard line with 44 seconds left to play.
From there, Rothstein scrambled for 17 yards to the LO 37, then connected with Mondeaux for a 34-yard completion - Mondeaux outjumped Horak to make the catch - at the Laker 3-yard line.
Jesuit sent Sellers into the line on first down but came up empty - he was stopped for no gain by Mitch Lomax and Turner Young - then hurried to the line to spike the ball and stop the clock. The Crusaders rushed into position, then waited for the official to place the ball on the turf as the final seconds ticked down and the Lakers struggled to reposition themselves on defense.
Mori snapped the ball to Rothstein, who spiked it immediately, but the game clock ticked off to zero at virtually the same time. The Laker players rushed the field certain of their victory, and coaches from both sides waited as officials huddled to determine if they would add one more second to the clock - and one more play to Jesuit's season.
But the officials broke their huddle, declared the game over and put an end to Jesuit's final hopes.
'I'll remember this game and how hard we fought, but it hurts a lot,' Sellers said. 'This will definitely stay with me for a long time.'
'God forbid that last play happened, but we drove, we fought,' Strys said. 'It wasn't the officials, it was every other play in the game that added up to it. It's just one of those where we fell short.'
'Playing for Jesuit, it's hard to ever get love from the refs, but ... we had shots to put it in and we just couldn't do it,' Glass said. 'It's tough when it ends like that. Time didn't seem to want to stop when we were trying to spike the ball.'
For the game, Jesuit rushed for 288 yards as a team and held LO to 48 yards on the ground. Matthews, however, hit on 18-of-24 passes for 254 yards, with Griffin making four catches for 88 yards and Anderson seven more for 74 yards.