For the second consecutive year the Sheldon Irish are headed back to the OSAA State Title game after knocking off the Jesuit Crusaders 35-28 in front of a crowd of 5,592 Saturday night at Jeld Wen Field.
The Irish got on the board first when quarterback Taylor Alie connected with Connor Strahm on a 11-yard touchdown pass to take the early 7-0 lead. Alie would throw another touchdown pass to Yadie Dunmore this time on a 15-yard pass in the second quarter.
It looked as though Sheldon would go into halftime with a two touchdown lead but the Crusaders intercepted Alie and put together a 17 play 76 yard drive that was capped by a 2-yard touchdown run by Joey Alfieri as time expired to make in the second quarter to make the score 14-7 in favor of the Irish.
Jesuit received the ball after halftime and after a touchback the Crusaders marched 80 yards and scored on a 6-yard run by AJ Glass to tie the score at 14-14.
Sheldon would respond to the Crusaders score and would go back up 21-14 on an 8-yard run by Alie on a drive that only took 1:08.
In what proved to be a frantic third quarter the Crusaders would not be denied and would respond to tie the game once again on a 1-yard run by Glass with 2:31 remaining in the quarter.
The Irish came right back and in less than a minute scored again on an 8-yard run by running back Mitch Lewis to put Sheldon up 28-21 to end the third quarter.
After Jesuit started the fourth quarter by turning the ball over on downs Alie connected with Mitchell Herbert on a 24-yard touchdown pass to put the Irish up 35-21 with 10:02 to play in the game. Alie finished the game completing 23 of 34 passes for 303 yards and three touchdowns.
“Our offensive line really helped us out tonight and Taylor (Alie) played a hell of a game, you can see how much he has improved since day one,” said Strahm.
Once again the Crusaders would respond when quarterback Elliot Nistler completed a 56-yard touchdown pass to Xaiver Coleman to bring Jesuit within a touchdown.
Jesuit was able to force a Sheldon punt on the next possession but offensively could not get anything going and turned the ball over on downs on their last two drives.
The Crusaders finished the game with 398 yards rushing, led by Glass who had 33 carries for 187 yards and two touchdowns and was named player of the game for Jesuit. Chase Morrison also chipped in with 14 carries for 130 yards.
The Irish offense looked sharp against Jesuit completing 12 of 16 third downs, gaining 334 yards through the air and 122 yards on the ground all while running a hurry up offense much like the Oregon Ducks use.
Sheldon remains undefeated on the season and face Lake Owego next week in a rematch of last year’s title game where they lost to the Lakers 47-14.
“It’s a very good feeling (to have a rematch with Lake Oswego) but right now we just need to get dialed in to what we do. The good feeling is going to go away by this time next week and we just need to come out strong,” said Strahm. “The first half last year we played well and were only down by three but the second half we played very un-Sheldon like.”
Story by PAUL WAGNER
Photos by NICK JONES
Video by JESSE JAMES