Updated November 21, 2023 - 4:54 pm
Faith Lutheran had seemingly swung momentum its way before halftime in the Class 5A Division II football state championship game Tuesday.
The Crusaders took their first lead of the game over Northern champion Bishop Manogue with just over two minutes left on a 16-yard touchdown pass to Cade Keith from quarterback Alex Rogers.
But their lead was short-lived. Manogue scored twice in the final 65 seconds before halftime to regain the lead, and the Miners never looked back, rolling past the Crusaders 40-21 at Allegiant Stadium.
“That was a bad, bad deal,” Faith Lutheran coach Mike Sanford said of the swing before halftime. “We could have done better on offense, especially at the end of the first half. We needed to score and not give (Manogue) the ball with a short field.”
It’s the 14th football state title for Manogue, but the first since 2003. The Miners lost last year’s 5A title game to Bishop Gorman 70-6.
“It feels awesome,” Manogue coach Ernie Howren said. “I’m so proud of these kids. I have so many emotions right now. It’s hard to put into words.”
Manogue quarterback Philip Jacobs completed 10 of 13 passes for 189 yards and threw two touchdowns. Running back Cody Fleischmann rushed for 129 yards and a touchdown, and wide receiver Ben Scolari caught seven passes for 153 yards and three touchdowns for the Miners (10-2).
Rogers completed nine passes for 21 yards for 147 yards and a touchdown and added 69 rushing yards and a rushing score for Faith Lutheran (9-4).
“We didn’t win all three phases, (Manogue) won all three phases of the game,” Sanford said. “We have to do that to win. Our margin of error is small so we have to win in all three phases of the game, and we didn’t do that today.”
Manogue struck first on a 1-yard pass from Jacobs to Scolari midway through the first quarter. Faith Lutheran responded as the quarter ended when Rogers scored on a 9-yard touchdown run.
Trailing 10-7 after a Manogue field goal, Faith Lutheran’s defense forced a fumble and recovered at Manogue’s 27-yard line. Rogers gave the Crusaders their first lead on the touchdown pass to Keith with 2:04 left before halftime.
The Miners responded with a 13-yard score from Jacobs to Scolari, and after they forced the Crusaders into a three-and-out, the quarterback-wide receiver duo connected again on a 60-yard score with 35 seconds before halftime to take a 23-14 lead at the break.
“(Faith Lutheran) had all the momentum, and then we fought and clawed to get it back,” Howren said. “I feel like our guys fought and clawed to keep the lead and not give it back.”
Jadyn Buckner scored on a 3-yard touchdown run to cap off a 12-play, 66-yard Manogue drive that took 6½ minutes at the beginning of the third quarter. Fleischmann scored on a 3-yard run in the fourth quarter for the Miners.
Faith Lutheran running back Cale Breslin scored on a 1-yard run late in the fourth quarter. Breslin finished with 55 rushing yards, and Keith added 76 receiving yards.
After an eventful realignment process, 5A was split into three divisions, with Division I being made up of only Southern Nevada teams and with Northern teams electing to drop to Division II. The Crusaders emerged out of a tight Division II Southern League to win the league title.
“We started the year 1-2. That was adversity, and we came back from it,” Sanford said. “We improved as a team and got better every week. I felt like we’ve played really well the last five weeks, but we didn’t play well enough tonight. (Manogue) was the better team, we have to give them credit.”
With Breslin and Rogers among notable juniors — along with quarterback Garyt Odom, who did not play due to a knee injury — Sanford said he’s excited about the future.
“I’m going to miss our seniors, but I’m really excited about the future and the young guys that we have here moving forward,” Sanford said.