In his first varsity start, Jesuit quarterback Kevin Shuman finished with three touchdowns and three interceptions. (File photo: Rob Graham)
By Michael Finnegan / Special Contributor
The nondistrict schedule has not been kind to Jesuit in recent years, and that didn’t change during Friday’s season opener.
In a game that featured four first-half lead changes, Arlington surged by the Rangers in the third quarter and cruised to a 55-25 win at Postell Stadium.
During one stretch of the third quarter and with the game still very much in question, Jahari Rogers threw three unanswered touchdown passes to give the Colts a 45-22 lead. For the night, the junior threw for seven scores and 411 yards.
Before Arlington took control of momentum at the start of the second half, it was anyone’s game. In fact, it was Jesuit’s offense that looked unstoppable at the game’s onset.
On the game’s opening possession, the Rangers drove the ball 75 yards and took an early 6-0 lead when Jack Hajdu hauled in a 24-yard touchdown pass from Kevin Shuman. Then, Shuman ran in a 2-point conversion to put Jesuit in front 8-0 at the 8:45 mark of the first quarter.
“It was back and forth that entire first half,” said Jesuit head coach Brandon Hickman. “And really, it was a tale of two halves.”
The Rangers put together another lengthy drive on their next possession. Starting at their own 17-yard line, Jesuit used a combination of run and pass, and a little trickery, on their way to a 15-3 lead.
On first down, Shuman threw a pass behind the line of scrimmage to Hajdu, who then passed to a diving Travis Whisler for a 31-yard gain. After short receptions by Hajdu and Whisler, and two short runs by E.J. Smith, the Rangers faced a second-and-long on Arlington’s 12-yard line. That’s when Shuman threw his second touchdown pass, this one a 12-yarder to Smith.
The Colts drew closer when Rogers connected with Trey Cleveland in the corner of the end zone, the first of three touchdown receptions for the Texas Tech-bound senior.
Arlington went ahead for the first time with 4:59 left in the half. Starting at their own 2-yard line, the Colts drove 98 yards and took a 17-15 lead when a scrambling Rogers found Qaklon Fore in the middle of the end zone.
Jesuit regained the lead on Smith’s 67-yard touchdown catch-and-run, putting the Rangers ahead 22-17 with just over a minute remaining in the second quarter. In all, Smith amassed 161 of total offense.
On the last play of the first half, Rogers and Cleveland teamed for their second touchdown, this one on a fade route to take a 24-22 lead to the locker room.
“Our offense played very well in the first half but not the second,” Hickman said. “And believe it or not, our defense played much better in the second half than the first. Those three second-half turnovers hurt. … We just need to put two halves together and we’ll be fine.”
Hickman referenced Jesuit’s three interceptions in the second half after a turnover-free first half. The Colts capitalized on each of the takeaways to build a 55-22 advantage late in the game.
“It got out of hand there pretty quickly,” Hickman said. “Arlington is a good team. We schedule quality pre-district opponents like them and DeSoto [next week] to prepare for district play and the playoffs.”
Jesuit’s last score came on a 37-yard field goal by James Koshakji with just over a minute left. Shuman finished the game with 223 yards of total offense and three touchdowns.
The Rangers have now dropped seven consecutive pre-district games spanning the last three seasons. Jesuit has not won a nondistrict contest during the regular season since defeating Strake Jesuit in 2015.