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With the Crusaders driving late, the Rams forced a turnover on downs to stay alive in the 6A state tournament.



With a rivalry nicknamed the Holy War, it's fair to expect a battle on the gridiron.

Central Catholic and Jesuit lived up to the hype on Friday, Nov. 11, with the Rams emerging with a 23-20 win over the host Crusaders to advance to the Class 6A football semifinals.

Central Catholic (10-1) seeded fifth entering the playoffs will take on top seed West Linn (10-1) at 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 11. That game will be played at Pioneer Stadium in Oregon City.

The other 6A semifinal on Nov. 18 features No. 2 seed Shelton and No. 3 Tualatin at McNary High in Salem.

The Central Catholic-Jesuit quarterfinal game came down to Jesuit's final possession. The Crusaders had the ball inside the Rams 30-yard line but were forced into a fourth-and-11 with only 46 seconds left on the clock.

Instead of going for the game-tying field goal, quarterback Jacob Hutchinson rolled to his right trying to hit his favorite target on the night, Jace Burton. The throw was too wide for a diving Burton as the ball hit the turf and sent the Rams' faithful into a frenzy.

As for the decision to go for it instead of attempting a field goal, Jesuit head coach Ken Potter didn't hesitate after seeing the previous extra point attempt go wide on the same side of the field.

"Hindsight is always 20-20, but no," Potter said. "Did you see the extra point? I don't know what your mindset as a kicker is when an extra point like that goes awry."

For the Rams, the final stop was one of three made by the defense with the Crusaders knocking on the doorstep.

Sophomore standout Zhaiel Smith made the play of the game when he picked off Hutchinson with a one-handed grab while falling backwards in the middle of the second quarter. He stayed on his feet and got a few return yards as well.



However, junior QB Cru Newman fumbled the ball on the Rams next snap and set Jesuit right back up on the Rams 14-yard line.

But the Rams defense was stout again, forcing a Payton Roth fumblethat ultimately led to a 26-yard field goal from Bo Robertson at the halftime horn to put Central Catholic up 17-14.

That bend-but-don't-break mentality is what got the Rams through, according to coach Steve Pyne. Roth had plenty of yards on the night, but Pyne was happy with the defense not allowing any explosive plays. Jesuit had only two plays that went for more than 25 yards.

One of those plays was a 29-yard touchdown run by Roth in the first quarter that tied the game at 7. Newman had a 36-yard run to help set up a 6-yard TD pass to Cade Gehlen on the Rams opening possession of the game to go up 7-0.

Roth's touchdown run came the play after Garrett Speer ran for 16 yards on a fake punt, providing a spark for the Crusaders after the first two possessions didn't look strong.

PMG PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Jesuit football's Payton Roth (34) runs the ball against Central Catholic during the 6A state quarterfinals Nov. 11, 2022, at Jesuit High School.

Jesuit took the lead on its next possession after it blocked a Central Catholic punt and put the Crusaders at the Rams 36-yard line.

Facing a fourth down from the 26, Hutchinson floated a pass up to wide open Burton who hauled it in and stepped over the line for the touchdown, putting Jesuit up 14-7 with 8:50 to go in the half.

However, the Rams first offensive play on the next drive was a 68-yard house call for Gehlen to tie the game up at 14.

"We had a ton of opportunities in the first half and the second half," Potter said. "Stopping them on fourth down, or making fourth downs. It comes down to making plays at crucial times. They made more of them than we did."

Jesuit was far from out of it though, especially following a bad punt to give the Crusaders the ball on the Rams 40-yard line to start the fourth quarter.

It only took the Crusaders a few plays until Speer ran the ball in from 12 yards out to put Jesuit on top 20-17 following the missed extra point.



Once again, the Rams responded and went 71 yards on their next possession and finished the drive off with a 15-yard touchdown pass from Newman to Smith. That made it 23-20 following the Rams own missed point after kick.

"We faced our toughest test in nine weeks, and our kids came to play," Pyne said. "I told them it was going to be a 48-minute game against a really great program, and I knew their kids wouldn't quit."

Newman finished his night 13 for 23 passing for 137 yards and two touchdowns while also rushing 17 times for 89 yards. The Jesuit defense, like most, struggled to bring the junior QB down as he constantly ran the ball for positive yardage when facing pressure, or extended plays to be able to hit an open receiver.

Senior linebacker Solomon McDaniels said Newman is "a magician" and said the team likes to call him "Cru-dini."

"Cru's a special player," Jesuit's Speer said. "He makes quite a few plays. It's hard to play against. He's not your average quarterback. He's very shifty, he can make you miss."

That final touchdown set up what turned out to be a little more than a 7-minute drive by Jesuit that fizzled out on the fourth down call with under a minute to play.

Roth finished with 30 carries for 170 yards and the lone score. McDaniel gave props to Roth for having a great night, but also said the game plan was to slow down the Crusaders run game by hitting the fullback and stopping the momentum up front early in the run.

The Rams will need that and a whole lot more as they match up with No. 1 West Linn next week in the semifinals. The Lions haven't played a competitive game since Oct. 7 when they beat Tualatin 42-30. Since then, they've scored at least 50 points in five consecutive and held their opponents to 14 points or less.

PMG PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Central Catholic football's Cru Newman (6) celebrates with teammate Cade Gehlen after beating Jesuit in the 6A state quarterfinals Nov. 11, 2022, at Jesuit High School.


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