Jesuit Tops Clear Creek in 1st Round Of Playoffs
The Strake Jesuit Fighting Crusaders won their seventh consecutive game, a bi-district playoff matchup against the Clear Creek Wildcats by Friday's 48-14 score. Excellent quarterback play complemented this well-oiled rushing attack, while defensive poise made the Crusaders seem like a competitive Big 10 team. Now an unorthodox philosophy, Strake Jesuit continues to succeed with smash mouth football: relying on the run, controlling time of possession, minimizing turnovers and grinding out opponents for wins.
Unlike most of the Crusaders' blowout wins, Clear Creek kept the game close in the first half. After Jesuit's methodical first drive score—led primarily by Dylan Campbell—the Wildcats pieced together a nice one-two punch to begin the game. It started with their quarterback, Andrew Dry, gashing the Crusader defense with multiple QB runs. He found open space on a draw play and was fortunate enough to have a defender yank his face mask. A few plays after that 25-yard gain, Dry rolled out on a bootleg and scrambled for 15 yards. The next play, Clear Creek ran a QB sweep to the near pylon for their first touchdown of the night. The Crusaders then threw an early interception to cornerback Lane Brewster, setting up the Wildcats at the 17-yard line with much anticipation. With the team's maroon and white color scheme, and a number two on his jersey, Andrew Dry Manzieled his way for another score.
A watershed play occurred in the second quarter. William Dickason—now at midfield—dropped back to pass and threw a dangerous ball through Lane Brewster's eager hands and into the arms of his intended receiver, Bryce Palumbo. Palumbo's heads-up catch ended in a 15-yard gain, a first down, and a shift in momentum. Had the Wildcats pounced on the opportunity, they would've had two consecutive drives with short field position. The catch just happened to be a third and long conversion, thus serving as a blow to Clear Creek's psyche. Campbell drove and finished the drive with a one-yard rushing score.
With the game tied at 14, the Wildcats would go three-and-out, and allowed the Crusaders a chance to drive down the field with 3:20 left in the half. Clear Creek forced a punt, so they were now in the driver's seat. But, an ill-timed throw let senior cornerback Camden Terry intercept and return the ball to Jesuit's 40-yard line. William Dickason flipped a screen to Dylan Campbell for 20 yards. Great! A holding call would negate Dickason's 25-yard scramble on the next play. Not great. Jesuit still managed to convert a first down from 2nd and 20. It just had seven seconds left in the half. The next play would serve as a testament to the development of Strake Jesuit's quarterback throughout the season. Dickason dropped back to pass, stepped up in the pocket to avoid pressure, got a running start as he heaved a 40-yard pass to the end zone, watched his strike sail towards sophomore tight end Thomas Jewitt with three defenders around him, and saw the ball deflect off his hands into the back of the end zone, where sophomore wide receiver Leland Smith dove and caught the ball as time expired in the half. Whew, what an amazing play to seize momentum going into halftime! It was 20-14 at the half after a missed PAT.
Whatever sensational events occurred in the first half were dulled with the ensuing blowout. Strake Jesuit scored a touchdown on every drive of the second half. The Crusaders' ball control wore out the Wildcat defense. Campbell would rip off chunk plays in the running game, only to set up deeper play action passes. Clear Creek could not muster any offensive rhythm since its defense was stuck on the field for five to seven minutes at a time. The result was untimely penalties, which set the Wildcats behind the chains and forced them into obvious passing downs and subsequent turnovers. Camden Terry almost had a pick-six on a crucial third down, and cornerback Nick Cassapo added another interception to his outstanding total this season. Jacob Psyk and Carson Grimm both had sacks and tackles for loss. Both sides played fundamentally sound football and cruised past any first half woes for a first round victory.
Numbers wise, William Dickason had his most impressive game of the season. Excluding outlier plays, Dickason completed 11 of 16 passes for 155 yards and a touchdown. Two explosive pass plays would add 98 yards and a pair of touchdowns to his stat line. This is the first time the quarterback has eclipsed 200 passing yards this season. Dylan Campbell had his usual game: 122 rushing yards with a trio of touchdowns, along with three receptions for 61 yards. Senior wide receiver Bryce Palumbo led the team in receiving—two receptions for 83 yards and a touchdown—due to his 68-yard score on a screen.
A similar performance to last Friday's game could give the Crusaders a shot at the Beaumont West Brook Bruins on Friday. The last time Strake Jesuit played West Brook was early in the season. During that outing, Dickason completed a whopping three passes for 19 yards. Now, the senior quarterback's gradual contribution to the ground-and-pound offense has added a crucial second dimension to keeping the team's season alive.