Dawson fends off late Crusader comeback

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Will Turboff ’22

On Friday, October 15, Strake Jesuit Varsity Football returned to Clay Stadium after a tough loss to Shadow Creek and were determined to defeat another district rival, Pearland Dawson. With the playoff picture starting to take shape in District 23-6A, the Crusaders have realized that every game counts more than the last one, especially against playoff favorites like the Eagles from Pearland

After an unsuccessful opening drive for Dawson, their defense came firing out of the gates, forcing a fumble on the first offensive play from scrimmage for the Crusaders. A gritty first quarter led to the Eagles taking a number of shots late in the quarter, one of those being a deep pass to Ryan Guillo from Colin Johnson that would put the first points on the board. 

Dawson continued their dominance for the majority of the first three quarters, on both sides of the ball. Heading into the 4th quarter, the Eagles led 18-0 thanks to contributions from Johnson, RB Bryce Burgess, and many others. 

Many of the bright spots from SJ during this time came from the special teams unit, as the Crusaders blocked a PAT and forced poor snaps on two other attempts. Additionally, Marc Arsham ‘22 stepped in as the emergency kicker and punter as a result of the absence of usual starter Max Castellanos ‘22. Arsham showed off his rugby background with a number of touchbacks on kickoffs, as well as a few great punts.

Bryce Fucik ‘23 and the offensive unit for the Crusaders took advantage of good field position to begin their comeback with a huge gain from Leland Smith ‘22 on the opening play of the drive. This pass put the team in the red zone, and would set up a 1-yard touchdown pass to Will Taylor ‘22 to cut the Dawson lead to 12.

With the momentum in their favor, the SJ defense forced a turnover on a Dawson rush deep in Crusader territory to keep the game alive. On the other side, Fucik and the offense would drive down the field in no time. After a pass interference call and a Will Taylor reception that gained around 25 yards, Taylor would find the end zone once again on the next play to make the score 18-13 in favor of Dawson.

After sending the kickoff unit out following the touchdown, Coach Fikac used the Crusaders 2nd timeout of the half to regroup and prepare the squad to recover an onside kick. Said onside kick would end up being unsuccessful, and Dawson took over at their own 45-yard line. Instead of running out the clock, the Eagles took a shot and scored yet another touchdown to once again make it a two possession game.

SJ took over once again with 3:21 to go in the game, and knew that they would need some incredible clock management to pull their comeback off. A touchdown pass from Fucik to Chico Holt ‘23 ended the drive after exactly two minutes, and the Crusaders cut the lead down to 3 with a two point conversion.

Dawson recovered yet another onside kick attempt from SJ up by just a field goal, and the Eagle offense hit the field in victory formation. A couple of kneel downs by Colin Johnson finished this one off with a final score of 24-21, as Dawson improved their district record to 3-1.

The Crusaders will now face an uphill battle. with hardly any room for error at 1-3 in district play. SJ will face Alief Taylor this Thursday at Crump Stadium, before matches with Elsik and Alvin to end the regular season.