Faith Lutheran senior quarterback Sagan Gronauer said he’d never seen so much open field in his career.
After Shadow Ridge’s defense bit on a fake to tailback Julian Rohan late in the first quarter, Gronauer ran 82 yards untouched to give the Crusaders an early lead. Gronauer and his teammates never looked back, and cruised to a 41-8 road victory on Friday.
“When I got to midfield, I thought ‘This is not happening,’ ” he said. “I was so worried I was going to be pulled down from behind.”
Gronauer added another touchdown run less than three minutes later. He finished with 99 yards rushing and 177 yards passing in the Crusaders’ balanced, no-huddle offense. The Crusaders’ third scoring drive might have been Gronauer’s finest.
On consecutive plays, he had to corral loose footballs due to bad snaps, and in both cases recovered the ball to complete passes: first to Peyton Thornton for 18 yards, then to Kayden Rogers for 17 yards. With a good snap on the fourth play of the drive, he found Rogers on a curl pattern in the back of the end zone. Faith Lutheran (4-4, 3-1 Northeast League) led 20-0 at halftime.
“(Our offense) is quick and we get plays off right away,” said freshman wide receiver Keegan Bunn. “We want to wear out opposing defenses and let our conditioning take over.”
In contrast, the Mustangs (5-4, 2-3) took their time, running the ball 62 times. Quarterback Kody Presser ran 26 times, but several big losses limited him to 70 total yards. Senior running back Xavier Gomez led the Mustangs with 127 yards on 13 carries and his team’s only touchdown.
After Gronauer’s two early touchdowns, Julian Rohan shouldered much of the rest of the running load with 14 carries for 70 yards and one touchdown. Despite throwing interceptions on the first pass of each half, Gronauer effectively picked apart the Mustang defense with 11 pass completions. Rogers and Gregory Oliver each caught touchdown passes.
Linebacker Kendall Lightfoot picked up one of five Shadow Ridge fumbles to score his second defensive touchdown of the season.
“We still have work to do,” said Faith Lutheran coach Vernon Fox. “We’re playing at a good level, but not great.”