Never one to balk at a big moment or flinch with an onrushing ballcarrier coming into his kitchen, Jesuit defensive back Trent Werner’s last-minute heroics saved the Crusaders’ bacon against Lake Oswego.

With his young secondary reeling after giving up a touchdown on 4 and 18 that cut Jesuit’s fourth quarter lead to 21-19, Werner barnstormed up from his cornerback spot on the ensuing two-point try, and stuck Lake Oswego’s Zach Parker with a textbook-form tackle that pinned Parker to the turf short of the end zone.

Later in the fourth, after Jesuit punted the ball back to Lake Oswego with 15 seconds to go, Werner hunted down Mitchell Verburg’s hail-marry heave around the Laker 30-yard line as time expired to help the Crusaders’ clinch a 21-19 victory in the second round of the 6A playoffs on Friday. Jesuit will host Lakeridge in the 6A quarterfinals this coming Friday at 7 p.m.

“It’s a big team win, everybody stepped up,” said senior offensive lineman Charlie Landgraf. “Lake Oswego’s a heck of a program, and they came at us. It was a good battle, but it’s good to come out with the win.”

Playing the pass first against Lake Oswego wide receiver Jordan Horak on the game’s deciding two-point attempt, Werner said he was willing to let Parker try to push a throw into the end zone, if he dared. But, the savvy senior, who’s been through his share of playoff frays, could sense his team’s need for a big play and wasn’t going to let Parker waltz into the end zone unscathed on the ground.

“I just had to go get him before he got the ball off, so he couldn’t jump in and make the play,” said Werner. “I think it showed a lot of heart for our defense in general. We were battling all night. We had some penalty calls on us in big situations, and we couldn’t do anything about that. But, we got that huge stop, and it gave us some momentum when they got the ball back in the end.”

After a hostile first half that showed blood-thirsty intensity on both sides, and three game’s worth of bone-shaking hits, Lake Oswego took a 13-7 lead on the first drive of the third quarter when Verburg took a quarterback keeper up the middle on a 1-yard score.

However, as the startled Crusader defense jogged over to the sideline, Landgraf relayed a message to his defensive mates, assuring the offense line would get the game back in Jesuit’s TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Jesuit junior defensive tackle Nick Miller fights about a Lake Oswego pass block in the first quarter of the Crusaders 21-19 over the Lakers on Friday.

“We told them we were going to take control,” said Landgraf. “It was senior leaders like (Mike) Miller and (David) Brugato stepping up, and telling guys if we control the line of scrimmage, we have a chance to win this game.”

The Jesuit offense proceeded to stomp 76 yards on 10 plays, all of which came on the ground via Werner or junior running back Chase Morrison. On 1 and 10 from the Laker 12, Morrison shook Parker out of his shoes with a knee-buckling juke that froze the Laker linebacker, and let the Jesuit junior glide into the end zone for the score. Patrick Carley’s extra point put Jesuit ahead 14-13 with 3:46 remaining in the third.

“There was a big hole, and then it was just one-on-one in the hole,” said Morrison. “I just had to juke one guy, and that was it.”

On the Lakers’ next possession, sophomore defensive back Jordan Happle picked off Verburg on a closely covered flag route with 17 seconds to go in the third to return the ball back to the brimming Crusader offense. by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Jesuit junior running back Chase Morrison ran for 194 yards and three touchdowns in the Crusaders 21-19 second round playoff win over Lake Oswego.

Invigorated by Morrison’s tough inside running between the tackles and ability to hit the open holes with speed and authority, Jesuit converted three third downs on the ensuing drive. Two of the conversions were third-and-shorts with the 175-pound Morrison lowering his head into the massive Lakers’ linebacker core and picking up a pair of hard-earned first downs.

On second and goal from the Laker 2, Morrison followed a pancake block by Brugato into pay dirt to go up 21-13 with 7:07 left in the TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Jesuit sophomore defensive back Josh Anderson celebrates a tackle for a loss against Lake Oswego in the second round of the 6A playoffs.

“That’s the style we want to play, running the ball, being physical,” said Morrison. “The coaches have told me to run a little more physical, and that’s what I tried to do in the second half. I’m a smaller guy, but I try to run with some power.”

Morrison — considered by some to be more of a speedster who can explode on the outside than a big bellcow in the trenches — showed he has the guts to take a licking against the notoriously hard-hitting Laker defense. The all-Metro League back finished with 194 rushing yards and three scores.

“I know Chase can put the team on his back, and he showed it tonight,” said Werner.

Morrison’s longest run of the night was just 18 yards, proving he can pound the rock just as well as take it to the house with little resistance. Jesuit’s offensive line led by Landgraf, Brugato, Mike Miller, Paul Vickers and Nick Miller reasserted its dominance in the second half, moving the Lakers off the ball up front and giving Morrison space to get to the second level of the defense.

“He’s tough as nails,” said Landgraf of Morrison. “A lot of people think of him as more of a finesse back, but he can get tough yards when he needs to. Being able to control the game like that, and knowing we can get a push, and Chase is going to run the ball hard, we can methodically move the ball down the field. I’m really proud of how everyone stepped up.”

Lake Oswego made Jesuit sweat a little bit late, when Werner was called for pass interference on 4 and 9 on the subsequent possesion that extended the Lakers’ drive. Horak’s hovering 19-yard touchdown catch over two Crusader defensive backs brought Lake Oswego’s deficit to two, before Werner stepped up and clocked Parker around the goaline.

“It came down to the end, but they’re a good team, and so are we,” said senior defensive end Christian Martinek. “We knew it’d come down to something like that, and Trent stepped up huge. I guess you could say he redeemed himself there.”

Lake Oswego had another chance to tie it after forcing a three-and-out with 2:38 left in the fourth, but the Laker punt returner bobbled the fourth-down punt. Jesuit junior long snapper Matt Woodruff charged after the loose pigskin, and after a pile up of Crusaders and Lakers, exited the heap with ball in hand.

Jesuit was able to bleed just enough off the clock to not give Lake Oswego sufficient time to put a game-winning march together.

“We say before every game, ‘Protect your brothers, we’re a family’,” said Werner. “It was a physical game out there, and we love playing hard and hitting hard. I like hitting people, so when we play another team that’s going to line up two tight ends and smash us in the mouth, it’s just a fun game to be a part of. Beating a team twice in one year (Jesuit won the season opener between the two teams, 17-14) is tough to do, especially with as good as they are.”

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