Crusaders Topple Morton Ranch, 50-49

Elliot Eyring ’16

The Strake Jesuit Varsity Football Team has high expectations for the 2015 season, starting with a commanding 70-23 win over Aldine. But, after two tough visiting losses, the Crusaders headed into Friday’s district opener at Morton Ranch with a chip on their shoulder.

Although this was the first district game of the season, Morton Ranch and Strake Jesuit have been predicted to be close contenders for one of the final playoff spots in the dominant District 19-5A, making this a highly anticipated game. It did not disappoint. It was a shootout, with 99 total points amassed between the two teams.

At halftime the Crusaders were losing 28-35 despite a great defensive play by George Icott, picking up a fumble and returning it for a touchdown. After trading off touchdowns in the second half, the Crusaders found themselves down by 14 with just over 4 minutes left.

But the following drive quarterback Zack Zubia connected with wide receiver Christian McStravick on a slant for an 80- yard  touchdown. Bang. Next  our defense came up with a big play as Tommy Upton recovered a football on Morton Ranch’s 20 yard line, leaving the Crusaders excellent field position. After a couple of plays running back Joshua Reece ran out of the shotgun and into the end zone for a 10-yard touchdown. Tie game!

But Morton Ranch didn’t give up. They responded with a quick drive resulting in a touchdown with 48 seconds left. Back and forth the lead went!

Strake Jesuit drove swiftly down the field into the red zone with big plays from Zubia and Reece. Then with 7 seconds left and 7 yards out of the end zone, Head Coach James Clancy called up a wide receiver screen to Christian Charbonnet, who caught it and dove into the end zone with one second remaining.

The Crusaders were down by one. With all this momentum, Clancy decided to go for 2 and the win. Zubia dropped back and threw a high fade to Charbonnet, who snagged the ball with one hand over the defender. The Crusaders won 50-49!

After the game I caught up with some of our players. What did they think the difference in the game was? Academic All District Cornerback Nick Stuchly responded, “Definitely the way we came out the second half, opposed to the first half.” Running back Joshua Reece replied, “We wanted it more,” and All District Offensive Tackle Braden Smith voiced, “Our intensity levels were consistently higher than Morton Ranch’s; we were really focused.” Then I asked Christian Charbonnet how big of a victory this is for the program. He replied, “It’s huge. It puts us in the driver’s seat for playoffs. We have some big games coming up and we really need everyone coming out and being loud. It really helps out the team.”

The Crusaders opened District play with a thrilling 50-49 win at Morton Ranch. We take on Thompkins at home this Friday for our Homecoming game as Jesuit looks to rally off last week’s big win.