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Crusaders get defensive, rout Boulder City

Faith Lutheran’s football team is accustomed to its offense setting the tone.

On Friday night, it was the defense’s turn.

The Crusaders forced seven first-half turnovers, including four resulting directly in touchdowns, on their way to a 53-14 home win over Class 3A Boulder City.

“The defense played well,” Faith Lutheran coach Jacob Kothe said. “The kids came out and got a lot of turnovers. That put the game in our hands early.”

Faith Lutheran’s A.J. Kaplan and Brad Pearson scored on interception returns of 2 and 29 yards, respectively, in the first quarter. In the second quarter, Cole Nikodemus returned a fumble 5 yards for a score, and Mark Caine recovered a fumble in the end zone for a TD.

All this came after the Crusaders (3-2) opened the game with an eight-play, 76-yard scoring drive capped by Joe Portaro’s 6-yard TD pass to Greg Thomas.

Faith Lutheran outgained Boulder City 179-21 in the first half.

“We really stressed in practice hitting the field and getting a good start right off the bat,” Kothe said. “The kids responded. That’s the good thing about these kids: any challenge we put in front of them, they respond.”

Portaro completed 10 of 15 passes for 128 yards and three touchdowns, all in the first half. The senior also found Don Pearson for scoring strikes of 8 and 45 yards.

Portaro hit six receivers. Don Pearson led the way with three catches for 64 yards.

Portaro also carried four times for 37 yards, including a 9-yard TD in the second quarter.

Kothe was glad to gain some momentum despite playing without tight end/linebacker Brett Lubbe and lineman Dylan Jones, who both sat out with injuries.

“We had a couple kids banged up, Lubbe and Jones,” he said. “It’s good that we were able to get those guys rested up, and hopefully they’ll be back next week. We got some opportunities for guys to step up and show that they can play, too.”

Boulder City (3-3) scored on Joe Woodbury’s 98-yard kickoff return to open the second half and Matt Combs’ 8-yard run in the fourth quarter.

Combs rushed for 32 yards on seven attempts.

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