With star running back Trey Lowe sidelined, Jesuit senior running back Alex Echevarria stepped into the lead role and rushed for 273 yards on 34 carries with three touchdowns to help lead the Crusaders to a 41-28 victory over Sunset in a battle for first place in the Metro League.
Lowe, who suffered concussion symptoms following Jesuit’s 47-30 win at Beaverton last week, was on the field in uniform for a pre-game senior night celebration, but spent the rest of the night on the sidelines. Echevarria and former backup running back Ennis Ferguson picked up the slack.
Ferguson, now a wide receiver, caught six passes for 111 yards and two touchdowns. Jesuit used most of its aerial game in the first half, taking a 20-14 lead just before halftime on a 12 yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback Will Spitznagel to Ferguson. Spitznagel hit Ferguson on a go route down the right sideline for a 50-yard touchdown in the first quarter, answering Sunset’s first TD drive. Spitznagel completed 13-of-19 passes for 270 yards and three touchdowns, but attempted just three passes after halftime.
After Sunset jumped in front 21-20 in the third quarter on a 35-yard touchdown pass from Coleman Newsom to Nick Cizik, Jesuit responded on the next play from scrimmage when Spitznagel hit Gary Hollands in stride on a deep route for a 67 yard score, giving the Crusaders the lead for good with 3:15 to play.
Echevarria put the game out of reach with touchdown runs of one and 38 yards in the fourth quarter, carrying the ball on 18 of Jesuit’s last 20 plays from scrimmage before the kneeldowns at the end of the game.
The Crusaders finished with 571 yards of offense and 25 first downs. Sunset rolled up a season-high 493 yards against the Crusaders with 24 first downs as Newsom completed 26-of-46 for 360 yards and two touchdowns, both to Cizik who caught six passes for 129 yards.
With the victory, the Crusaders clinch at least a share of their fifth consecutive Metro League championship, improving to 7-1 on the season and rising to #6 in the OSAA power rankings. Sunset dropped to 5-3 overall and held steady at #13. Both teams are in line to host first-round playoff games in two weeks, although Sunset needs a win at Beaverton in its final regular season game to secure a home playoff game. Jesuit head coach Ken Potter will be looking for career win number 300 in Jesuit’s final regular season game at Westview Friday. The Wildcats fell to Beaverton 27-13, likely ending Westview’s 13-year streak of state playoff appearances.