In a thriller that once again came down to the final minute, Brother Martin defeated Jesuit, 36-34, in the second round of the state playoffs Friday night at Tad Gormley Stadium.
The Crusaders won the first meeting between these teams in October, 45-42, and the Blue Jays could almost taste revenge in the 4th quarter. Jesuit led, 34-24 with 9:36 left in regulation after senior quarterback Luke LaForge hit sophomore wide receiver Jace Larson for a 41-yard touchdown pass.
But Brother Martin refused to lose. And the Crusaders scored 12 unanswered points to advance to the state semifinals against Catholic High.
Senior running back Jaylon Spears ran in a five yard touchdown, his third of the night, to cut the lead to 34-30 with 6:21 left in regulation. The extra point was blocked.
After forcing a Jesuit punt, Brother Martin got the ball back one more time. And senior quarterback Garrett Mmahat knew what to do with it.
He would hit on several key throws to get the Crusaders down the field and eat the clock in the process. On 3rd and six from the Jesuit eight yard line, Mmahat escaped pressure and scrambled for the game-winning touchdown with 49 seconds left.
“I just looked at my receivers, and then I saw a window open up,” said Mmahat. “I scrambled to the right, and the corner just kept going with the receiver. So I knew I had the edge. And I walked into the end zone.”
Mmahat also threw a touchdown pass to junior wide receiver Austin Jackson, who took a slip screen 82 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter. Brother Martin amassed 465 yards of offense. Each team had a turnover.Mmahat completed 11-of-19 passes for 250 yards and a touchdown and he rushed eight times for 85 yards and a score. Spears rushed 28 times for 160 yards and three touchdowns.
For Jesuit, Senior quarterback Luke LaForge put forth a valiant effort in the loss. In the final game of his high school career, he threw four touchdown passes.
Senior wide receivers Luke Besh and Max Milano each hauled in a score, and Larson caught touchdown passes of 30 and 41 yards. Senior safety Hayden Morris also had a 46 yard fumble return for a touchdown.
The two teams traded punches all night, and this game could have went either way. But Brother Martin did just enough to edge their long-time rival for a second time this year.
“We knew our season couldn’t be over.” Mmahat said. “I had confidence every drive, every play that we were going to come in and get positive yards, keep drives going. The coaches had a great game plan. We have to prepare better next week if we want to keep advancing.”