PORTLAND, Ore. -- Quarterback Taylor Alie smiled, as he looked over to his teammates after a hard fought battle, and simply said, “I just… I love my team.”
Lack of questionable penalties and a horrendous downpour pained the Sheldon Irish and the Jesuit Crusaders during their Semi-Finals match-up on Saturday night.
The Irish came out on top in the all-out war against the Crusaders, defeating them 35-28. They advance to the state championship game against the Lake Oswego Lakers next Saturday at Jeld-Wen Field.
The Irish elected to receive to start off the game. After a long kickoff return by running back Yadie Dunmore and a swift pass from quarterback Taylor Alie to wide receiver Ivan Faulhaber, Alie was intercepted by Jesuit’s Christian Martinek.
Taking over, the Crusaders failed to put points on the scoreboard in their first series of the game.
With 6:15 left in the first quarter, Irish quarterback Alie threw a laser pass to wide receiver Connor Strahm, who ran the ball in for the first Sheldon score of the night.
Down by a score but moving the ball, the Jesuit Crusaders were denied a touchdown, when Irish players Mitchell Herbert and Mitch Lewis teamed up to force an interception. Sheldon wide receiver Herbert batted the ball right into the arms of Sheldon running back Mitch Lewis.
In the next Irish possession, quarterback Alie ran the ball into Jesuit territory, and was tackled by Jesuit’s Henry Mondeaux. After that play, quarterback Alie tossed the ball to running back Dunmore on a halfback screen. Dunmore then ran the ball in for the second Irish touchdown, putting them up 14-0.
With just under nine minutes left in the half, the Jesuit Crusaders failed to put points on the board. The Irish took over on downs. Soon thereafter, Jesuit’s Joey Alfieri intercepted Sheldon quarterback Alie, setting up the Crusader’s first touchdown of the night.
The touchdown resulted from quarterback Elliott Nistler’s pass to receiver Joey Alfieri. At halftime, the score stood at 14-7, the Irish in the lead.
At the start of the third quarter, Jesuit scored with a touchdown pass from quarterback Nistler to running back AJ Glass.
On the kickoff to the Irish, Sheldon receiver Dylan Lewis ran the ball to Jesuit’s 49-yard line. After a close call with a potential interception by Jesuit’s Trent Werner, quarterback Alie ran the ball in for another Irish touchdown, making the score 21-14.
The Crusaders answered back to the Irish score with a score of their own – quarterback Nistler’s pass to running back AJ Glass.
With 2:31 left in the third quarter, quarterback Alie’s handoff to running back Mitch Lewis, after a personal foul on the Crusader defense, set up another Irish touchdown.
After Jesuit’s failed pursuit, the Irish were able to put another 7 points on the scoreboard. Quarterback Alie passed the ball to wide receiver Mitchell Herbert, making the score 35-21.
The last touchdown of the night was controversial. Crusader quarterback Nistler threw a long pass to receiver Xavier Coleman for the score. Prior to the catch, Coleman seemed to push off Sheldon defensive back Kellen Strahm. The referees failed to rule it a penalty. The touchdown added 7 more points to the Crusader’s score – with the PAT.
When asked about the play, wide receiver Connor Strahm said, “Hopefully, [the referees] don’t miss that one next week.”
Time ran out and the score stayed at 35-28 to end the game.
Quarterback Alie said, “I feel a lot better after the win. That first half, I got rocked pretty hard and so I was not performing the best.”
Wide receiver Strahm added, “I’m very happy for our team and for our community that made the trip up here… We just played a great team; a great program.”
The Sheldon Irish head back to Portland next week to face the Lake Oswego Lakers for the second consecutive time, in the state championship game.
When asked about the rematch, receiver Strahm said, “We’ll focus on that tomorrow after we watch film. It’ll be fun next week, for sure.”