Crusaders run record to 6-0
Strake Jesuit took an undefeated record into what could be considered the meat of their district schedule, facing three 2017 playoff teams in four weeks. First on the list was defending district champion Hastings, Oct. 12 at Crump Stadium.
The Crusaders are still unbeaten.
A few big plays and one of their best defensive outings of the season carried a 29-17 victory against a talented Bears squad.
Strake Jesuit improved to 6-0 overall, 3-0 in District 23-6A. Hastings fell to 4-2 and 2-1. Both have unbeaten Pearland remaining on the schedule.
The Crusaders passed their first big test. The Oilers await Oct. 19 at Clay Stadium.
“This is huge,” Strake Jesuit senior linebacker Andrew Koenig said. “We worked hard all week. This is the best week of practice we’ve had all year, starting last Saturday. We knew what we wanted to do and how we wanted to do it. We came out and executed the game plan. Hastings is a great team. They’ve got a lot of good players on their team. All the respect to them. They gave us a fight. They’re getting us ready for Pearland next week.”
Both teams were stingy on defense in the first half, trading four punts to start.
Laython Shaw raced in to shut down a screen pass as part of his active half on Strake Jesuit’s second drive. The Bears drove from their own one to midfield but Andrew Koenig, who had a sack on Hastings’ first drive, picked off a fourth-down attempt.
Four plays later, Michael Wiley found room on the left side and rushed from 24 yards for a 7-0 Crusaders lead with 1:02 remaining in the quarter.
The Bears appeared primed to cut into the lead, using a 24-yard catch by Edgerrin Melton and a 31-yard catch by Terrence Thomas to set up first and goal at the six. But Strake Jesuit held and the Bears could not connect on a fourth-down attempt in the end zone.
Hastings broke through on its next drive, with Joseph Manjack hauling in a tough catch for a 20-yard touchdown with 5:00 left in the half. It was the only time the Bears’ offense reached the end zone. They entered the game averaging 35.8 points per game with elusive quarterback Javon Williams running the spread.
“It was a lot of just contain,” Koenig said. “We knew he could run the ball and earlier this season there were quarterbacks who would just toast us with their legs. So were trying to keep him in the pocket and force him to make bad throws. He made a couple, which helped us a lot.”
Strake Jesuit erased most of the remaining time with its next drive, which included a 36-yard run by Dylan Campbell and a fourthdown reception by William Dickason. Andre Baud’s 24yard field goal gave the Crusaders a 10-7 halftime lead.
The Crusaders, who carried a 48.2 scoring average entering the game, struck with big plays in the third quarter. Campbell broke through the line and sped away for a 46-yard touchdown. Their next drive ended when Michael Hansen found Nathaniel Beal in stride on a fly pattern for a 43-yard touchdown and a 23-7 lead with 43 seconds left in the quarter.
“It shows our character, if anything,” Strake Jesuit senior quarterback Michael Hansen said. “We played hard the entire game. We didn’t let up. We knew they were going to get some three and outs and some stops. What kind of sets us apart is we’re going to keep going and try a bunch of different things. We always find something that works and everybody plays as a team while doing that.”
Hastings tightened the game, with Ja’Corey Benjamin taking the ensuing kickoff back 97 yards to bring the crowd to its feet. Consecutive sacks by Jevon Leon and a skillful 33-yard grab by Kollin Jackson continued the momentum. Though the drive stalled in the red zone, Anthony Quintanilla booted a 40yard field goal to bring the Bears within 23-17.
But the Crusaders had one more big play in them. Hansen eluded a rushing defender just long enough to loft a pass toward Dickson, who slipped a tackle and scored a 67-yard touchdown to ice victory.
Hastings prepares for rival Alief Taylor next week. The Lions improved to 2-1 in league play with an 18-14 victory against George Ranch.
Strake Jesuit looks to extend its perfect start to a season that could end up being its best since joining the UIL. The Crusaders were 8-3 with a bi-district championship last year.
“We’re still heads down and working,” Hansen said. “We know we’ve got a couple big games ahead. But we’re having a lot of fun. We have an awesome coaching staff, awesome student body, everyone supporting us. We’re having a lot of fun doing it.”
Strake Jesuit quarterback Michael Hansen (12) fires a pass in the fourth quarter against Hastings at Crump Stadium on Friday night at Alief.