Is there much more you could ask from a high school football game?
Ask anyone who watched Lake Oswego's 44-41 win over Jesuit on Friday, Sept. 13, at Lake Oswego High School and they would answer with a resounding "No."
The game, between two of Oregon's preeminent high school football programs — the top-ranked Lakers and No. 3 Crusaders — included huge momentum swings, huge offensive plays, huge turnovers and resulted in a huge win for Lake Oswego.
"You've always got to keep your head in it because every time you play a good team, you know they're going to make plays and it's all about how you respond," said Lake Oswego senior tight end/defensive end Marshall McGuire, who recovered a fumble and also blocked a Jesuit punt. "I'm really proud of all my teammates because they stepped up and made plays."
"It was a lot like when we played West Linn last year and we had to put together a final drive in the fourth quarter," said LO senior running back Casey Filkins, who finished with 228 yards rushing and four touchdowns on 24 carries. "We talked about that we've faced adversity as a group before so we knew we had to stick together and that's what we did."
With the win, the Lakers beat the Crusaders for the fourth time in a row (the Crusaders' last win in the series came in 2013) and improved to 2-0 overall, while Jesuit fell to 1-1 for the season.
"We're both great teams. We fought well, they fought well," said Jesuit senior running back Kade Wisher, who finished with 61 yards and two TDs on 18 carries. "Penalties killed our team, I think, more than theirs, but give it to them — they came out and hit us pretty hard."
"Obviously, it's not the outcome we want, but if we see them again, we'll work even harder," added Jesuit senior running back Ted Atkinson, who led his team with 81 yards and one score on 22 carries. "We always have each other's backs and we just keep working through the whole game."
The Lakers started fast on Friday, taking the game's opening possession and driving 75 yards on nine plays to score, that series capped by Filkins' 19-yard touchdown run out of the wildcat formation.
Filkins carried six times on the drive for 41 yards, while junior quarterback J.J. Woodin hit on both his passes for 32 yards.
Then, on Jesuit's fourth play from scrimmage, Wisher went up the middle, got hit, fumbled the ball and McGuire recovered at the Crusaders' 40-yard line. The Lakers drove as far as the Jesuit 8-yard line on the ensuing possession, but settled for a 26-yard field goal by Diyar Dezay and a 10-0 lead with 4:07 remaining in the first quarter.
Things got worse for Jesuit before they got better, too. After Lake Oswego's defense forced a three-and-out, Woodin connected with senior wide receiver Thomas Dukart down the middle of the field for a 61-yard TD and a 17-0 lead with 2:16 to go in the opening quarter.
"(Woodin) improved a lot since last week," said Dukart, who finished with four catches for 128 yards and two TDs. "During practice, we started working on throwing the ball on time and it resulted in touchdowns."
The Crusaders didn't fold, however. Instead, they drove 73 yards in 12 plays on their next series, took 5:26 off the clock and cashed in when Atkinson took a pitch around the right end for a 6-yard TD that cut their deficit to 17-7.
After a trade of stops — Jesuit forced a Filkins fumble and the Laker "D" responded with a three-and-out — Lake Oswego came back with a 64-yard scoring drive that extended its lead to 24-7 when Woodin hit Dukart down the right sideline for a 48-yard touchdown.
Undaunted, Jesuit answered with an 80-yard TD drive that cut Lake Oswego's lead to 24-14 late in the half. That series was capped by senior quarterback Jack Heyden's amazing scramble from the 5-yard line and his pitch forward — with LO's Connor Willihnganz draped all over him — to Luke Spitznagel for a TD with just 12 seconds left in the half.
The Lakers got a stop to open the second half, but it didn't matter. Two plays after the LO offense took over, Jesuit senior Campbell Brandt jumped a Woodin pass to the sideline, picked it off and raced 58 yards to score and bring his team within 24-21 midway through the third period.
After Jesuit forced a three-and-out, the Crusaders were on the verge of taking their first lead, working on first down at the Lakers' 7-yard line. But Atkinson was hit on the next down, fumbled the ball away and Lake Oswego's Jonas Hunter recovered at the 5-yard line.
The Lakers made that turnover hurt, too, getting a 63-yard Filkins run, and three plays later, a 29-yard Filkins TD run around left end that extended the LO lead to 31-21 near the end of the period.
The Lakers appeared ready to put the final touches on their win at the start of the fourth quarter when McGuire blocked a Conner Steen punt and LO took over at the Jesuit 2-yard line. Filkins scored on the next play to boost his team's lead to 37-21 with 11:42 left to play.
Again, however, there was no quit in the Crusaders. They took the ensuing series and drove 80 yards on six plays — including a 33-yard completion from Heyden to Darius Mims — and capped that march with a 2-yard Wisher run.
Next, Jesuit's defense forced a Woodin fumble that Charlie Pickard recovered at the Lakers' 10-yard line. From there, on second down, Heyden hit Brandt for a 10-yard TD in the left corner of the end zone that cut LO's lead to 37-34 with 7:59 remaining to play.
Lake Oswego hardly blinked, though. On their second play from scrimmage from the 32-yard line, the Lakers sent Filkins up the middle on a dive play and he broke it for a 68-yard score with 6:53 to go on the clock.
Lake Oswego senior Joe Hutson short-circuited Jesuit's next series with an interception, but after a Crusader stop, Jesuit took advantage of a short LO punt, got a 28-yard Heyden-to-J.P. Faherty pass to the 14, then capped its drive with a 5-yard Wisher run that brought the Crusaders within 44-41 with 2:46 to go.
Jesuit got no closer, though. The Lakers used Filkins and his talented offensive line to kill the clock and seal their win.
After the game, the Lakers were happy with the victory, but acknowledged that they still have much work to do.
"We hurt ourselves way too much," Filkins said. "Like coach was talking about, that's not OK. We're going to be playing really good teams down the stretch and we're not going to be able to get the job done if you don't fix that."
"We had a lot of mistakes — it's still early on — (but) we've got a lot of work to do," Dukart said.
Likewise, the Crusaders looked back on the mistakes they'd made, but remained confident on their ability.
"This team, we have a lot of heart," Wisher said. "We have a lot of seniors, a lot of juniors, a few sophomores, but everyone does their job. We just keep it going and keep our mentality right."
"Jesuit, as a whole has always been resilient and that's one major characteristic we have as a team," Atkinson said. "No matter who goes down, someone steps in and we've just got to keep working all game to get better, no matter what the score may be."
For the game, Woodin went 9 of 15 for 175 yards with two TDs and one interception. For Jesuit, Cooper Wrenn went 6 of 11 passing for 94 yards with one interception, while Heyden was 4 of 11 for 75 yards and two TDs.
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