Tornado bounced from playoffs
PORTLAND — Just when it looked like Jesuit would run away and hide in the second round of the Class 6A football state playoffs, North Medford found the end zone three times to put the No. 7-ranked Crusaders on notice heading into the halftime locker room Friday.
Jesuit jumped in front 14-0 less than five minutes into the game on a pair of long touchdown runs, highlighted by Chase Morrison’s 75-yard scamper on the team’s first play from scrimmage.
North Medford battled back and was tied 21-21 at intermission, but the Crusaders pulled ahead in the second half for a 35-21 win.
The Black Tornado ended the season with an 8-3 record. Jesuit (9-2) advances to play at No. 2 Tigard (11-0) in next week's quarterfinals.
After their first two scores, the Crusaders were hungry for more with another trip into the red zone. But North Medford linebacker Edmund Polataivao denied them by laying a big hit on quarterback Eric Restic, sending him flying 5 yards out of bounds for no gain.
Jesuit passed up a 35-yard field goal attempt, and Restic’s fourth-down pass sailed high.
The Black Tornado took possession and would begin their comeback.
After a series of misfires to start the game, quarterback Troy Fowler found Tristen Holmes on a slant over the middle for 28 yards. North Medford kept moving the chains and eventually had the end zone in its sights.
Fowler tried to hook up with Holmes in the left corner, but Jesuit’s Demetrius Douglas broke up the pass. Facing third-and-goal, North Medford called the same play to the other side of the field. Joshua Hansen pulled it down for six points, which brought the Tornado sideline to life.
The defense forced a three-and-out, and North Medford was on the march once more.
Fowler connected with Hansen to convert a third-and-10, and a few plays later he fired a high ball over double coverage. Holmes bobbled it for a moment before securing the catch just before stepping out the back of the end zone.
That tied the score, 14-14.
It appeared that North Medford would get a chance to move in front after linebacker Nick Janakes broke up a third-down screen pass. But the Crusaders went for it on fourth-and-7 from midfield, keeping the drive alive when Restic found Jordan Happle over the left side for 9 yards.
The Crusaders regained the lead when Restic took a shotgun snap and picked his way through the middle of the field 38 yards for a TD.
The Black Tornado answered with Will Spence returning the ensuing kickoff to midfield, carrying the pile the last 15 yards before being shoved out of bounds.
Hansen kept the ensuing drive alive with an 8-yard catch on fourth-and-4, and North Medford would score the next time it faced fourth down. This time Fowler rolled to his right and fired a perfect pass to the front pylon, where Holmes made the catch for the first down before spinning away from Jesuit’s Zach Houlemard to get over the goal line.
“Troy gave me a good ball,” Holmes said. “We talked all week about shedding that first tackler, and I was able to get loose.”
Isaac Grether booted his third extra point of the quarter to send the Tornado into the locker room deadlocked 21-21.
North Medford had a chance for the lead early in the second half after Holmes pulled down a one-handed interception on an under thrown ball near midfield.
But Jesuit got the ball back shortly after Donovan Baldocchi intercepted a pass and returned it inside the 10-yard line. That set up a short TD run by Restic for what would prove to be the winning points.
“We were intent on bringing the intensity into the second half, but we had a couple mistakes and they’re a good team and they capitalized,” Janakes said.
The Black Tornado looked as if it might answer right back when Hansen returned the ensuing kickoff down the sideline to Jesuit’s 37. But North Medford’s offense stalled in the second half, going 0-for-6 on third downs after the break.
The defense kept doing its part with Holmes and Polataivao coming up with back-to-back sacks to force Jesuit into a fourth-and-35 early in the fourth quarter.
North Medford regained possession, but suffered a three-and-out.
Jesuit put the game out of reach when Morrison zipped around the left side for a 24-yard gain, followed by a short burst through the middle to put the Crusaders up 35-21 with 5:25 to play.
The final touchdown almost didn’t happen when Spence tipped a fourth-down pass, but the ball deflected to Jesuit tight end Kyle Hamper along the sideline to keep the Crusaders on the field.
“I’m really proud of the way we performed, it just didn’t fall to our side,” Janakes said.
Holmes led the Tornado with five catches for 64 yards, while Janakes led the ground game with 13 carries for 54 yards, picking up three first downs.
Jesuit 35, North Medford 21
At Jesuit High
J — Morrison 75 run (Baluyut kick)
J — Talley 37 run (Baluyut kick)
NM — Hansen 8 pass from Fowler (Grether kick)
NM — Holmes 14 pass from Fowler (Grether kick)
J — Restic 38 run (Baluyut kick)
NM — Holmes 13 pass from Fowler (Grether kick)
J — Restic 2 run (kick blocked)
J — Morrison 3 run (Nelson pass from Restic)
North Medford — Janakes 13-55, Spence 4-10, Fowler 6-(-23).
Jesuit — Morrison 27-213, Talley 16-77, Restic 8-56, Hamburg 3-(-15).
North Medford — Fowler 14-39-1 152, Janakes 0-1-0 0.
Jesuit — Restic 4-11-1 46.
North Medford — Evans 4-39, Holmes 5-64, Hansen 3-31, Moore 1-11, Janakes 1-7.
Jesuit — Happle 3-35, Hamper 1-11.