Written by Corbett Smith
Jesuit wins eighth straight game behind big game from Matt Slovak, Orion Salters
There was good reason to doubt Jesuit a few games into the 2013 season, a year after graduating the school’s most storied senior class – with four players off to play for Big 12 schools, including record-setting wide receiver Jake Oliver.
Returning three starters, with a roster littered with sophomores, Jesuit stumbled out of the blocks, going 0-2 to start the season, including a 44-point loss to Keller Fossil Ridge.
How things have changed.
Jesuit won its eighth straight game, with running backs Matt Slovak and Orion Salters grinding out 336 rushing yards and five touchdowns in a 46-26 win over Rockwall in a Class 5A Division II area-round game at the Cotton Bowl.
Advancing to the third round of the playoffs for the first time since joining the UIL in 2004, Jesuit (9-3) will face perennial power Lake Travis (10-1) in the Region II semifinals, 2 p.m. Saturday at Waco ISD Stadium.
“This was a step in the right direction for our program,” Jesuit coach Brandon Hickman said.
Rockwall (6-6) scored on its opening drive, with Will Reed capping a six-play drive with a 25-yard touchdown pass to Jay Galloway. But Rockwall couldn’t slow Jesuit’s ground game – surprisingly effective, considering Jesuit quarterback Bo Schneider passed for 509 yards in the bi-district win over Plano West.
“It was one of those in-game things, where we realized that we could probably run the ball on these guys, also,” Salters said.
In the final 16 minutes of the first half, Jesuit scored on four consecutive drives: two on short runs by Slovak, and the other two by Salters on a 9-yard run and 32-yard catch. Linebacker John Wheeler added a 36-yard fumble return for a touchdown, giving Jesuit a three-score halftime lead.
“If they plugged up the inside, we went to the outside,” Slovak said. “If they plugged up the outside, we went inside. It was that easy. Our offensive line is the best part of the team, in my opinion. We can always ground-and-pound with them.”
Follow Corbett Smith on Twitter at @corbettsmithDMN.