Central Catholic senior Cru Newman accounted for 442 yards of offense in Friday's win over Tualatin. (Photo by Jon Olson)
Central Catholic senior Cru Newman accounted for 442 yards of offense in Friday's win over Tualatin. (Photo by Jon Olson)

HILLSBORO – Behind another stellar championship-game performance from quarterback Cru Newman, Central Catholic regained its perch atop 6A football Friday at Hillsboro Stadium.

The senior dual threat was the catalyst as the No. 4 Rams racked up a state-championship game record 639 yards of total offense in blitzing past No. 2 Tualatin 49-21 in the OSAA/OnPoint Community Credit Union 6A final.

Newman completed 19 of 24 passes for 346 yards and one touchdown and ran for a team-high 96 yards and two scores on 10 carries as Central Catholic (13-0) won its third title in four postseasons.

“I can't say enough good things about that kid,” Rams coach Steve Pyne said of Newman. “He's crazy good, makes plays everywhere. He's tough as nails. Great leader. And he willed us here this year, I think.”

Newman finished his career 38-2 as a starter, passing for 94 touchdowns and running for 26.

“It's unbelievable,” Central Catholic junior tackle Zac Stascausky said. “When you make a mistake, he makes you right every time. It'll be hard without him. Loved playing with him. Glad I could do it.”

Rams senior defensive back Timmy Mitchell said of Newman: “He's a magician.”

Newman's performance Friday was reminiscent of the 2021 final, when he passed for 243 yards and ran for 104 yards in a 44-14 win over Tualatin. In that game, the Rams outscored the Timberwolves 23-0 in the second half.

“We told the younger guys, 'Look up to us, we've had this experience,'” Newman said. “'Grab a thing or two, and let's just keep going from there.'”

Tualatin (11-2), playing for its first title, led 21-14 in the second quarter. But injuries to junior quarterback Nolan Keeney (collarbone) and senior tight end Jayden Fortier (knee) on their last touchdown drive were too much for the Timberwolves to overcome.

Central Catholic scored the game's final 35 points to win going away.

“We were going to put up points, no matter what,” Newman said. “It totally sucks, the game could have turned out differently. But offensively, I think we would have run it up all day, honestly.

“We felt pretty good going into the game offensively. We liked the defense they gave us.”

Pyne said that his “heart goes out” to Keeney and Fortier.

“You never want to see that,” said Pyne, who won his fifth title at Central Catholic. “It would've been a much tighter game had they continued to play. Those are two special players.”

Before Keeney and Fortier left the game for good early in the second quarter, the Timberwolves were cutting up a Central Catholic defense that smothered top-seeded West Linn in a 12-7 semifinal win.

Keeney completed 11 of 14 passes for 167 yards and two touchdowns, a 13-yard strike to Fortier and a 60-yard bomb to senior AJ Noland.

The Arizona State-bound Fortier – coming off a huge game in a semifinal win over Sherwood, when he had six catches for 354 yards and four touchdowns -- again was Keeney's go-to receiver, hauling in seven passes for 85 yards and the one score.

Central Catholic answered both of Keeney's touchdown passes with touchdowns – a 76-yard run by sophomore Killian Sombe and a one-yard run by Newman – to even the score at 14-14 in the first quarter.

The Timberwolves were moving the ball again, though, when Keeney and Fortier left the game on the first series of the second quarter.

Keeney injured his left collarbone – the same one he broke in Week 4 and missed five games – on a sack by Rams junior Kainoa Hayes. Keeney came out one play later after completing a 17-yard pass to Fortier to midfield

“I got tackled fifth or sixth play of the game. I felt it adjust out of alignment,” Keeney said. “The next time I got sacked, I could definitely feel something was wrong. I can’t even move my arm right now. I’m about to go get an x-ray.”

Fortier ran the ball from the wildcat formation on the next two plays, but came up limping after picking up a first down at the Central Catholic 40.

“Trying to run out of bounds, I plant wrong and that’s the end of my high school career,” Fortier said.

Fortier fears it's a torn ACL.

“That’s what they’re thinking, but nothing is official until the MRI,” he said. “I’m just going to be praying. I know God has a plan for me. This is part of it.”

Tualatin coach Dom Ferraro could only shake his head.

“When we were having success, the guys were really excited. The sideline was energetic,” Ferraro said. “... And then it felt like somebody kicked your dog. It was the first one and then the second one and you’re like, 'Ugh.'"

Noland, who filled in at quarterback for Keeney this season, took over the controls again. He threw a 17-yard touchdown pass to senior Kenen Elder to give the Timberwolves a 21-14 lead midway through the second quarter.

But that's when Central Catholic took over the game as the Timberwolves lacked the firepower to keep up.

“It's tough, but that's part of the game,” Mitchell said of Tualatin's injuries. “I feel like their team started to go down. They all lost control. Those were really big parts of their team.”

Central Catholic got a 30-yard touchdown run from junior D'Marieon Gates and a 50-yard scoring pass from Newman to junior Landon Kelsey to go ahead 28-21 at halftime.

The Rams blew open the game in the third quarter on touchdown runs of five yards by junior Tyson Davis and 18 yards by Newman. They pushed the lead to 49-21 early in the fourth quarter when Davis threw a two-yard touchdown pass to senior Dexter Foster.

Mitchell said the Rams were able to keep their focus after an emotional semifinal win over West Linn, which avenged last year's playoff defeat.

“We were thinking about West Linn from the day we lost to them,” Mitchell said. “We've been wanting to play them. We got our get-back, and got to the championship, and we had to handle business.”

Newman sensed an emotional hangover early in the week.

“The first few days, it really felt like it,” Newman said. “I'm guilty of it. Practice wasn't the best, honestly. But I knew the guys would get dialed in this week, and we really just took it to them.”