Sacramento's Jesuit High School did not participate in the 2012 National Invitational due to a disciplinary issue that kept them out of the post-season, but they made up for it Friday, racing away from an outstanding Xavier squad to win their 2013 NIT semifinal 39-20.
The two teams battled in a tight contest early, and in fact Xavier looked the stronger in the first half, leading 20-10.
But as the game wore on it became evident that Jesuit's back line was just a little bigger, a little faster, and very fit. Jesuit scored 29 unanswered points in the second half despite two yellow cards.
"This team has a really good rugby IQ," said Jesuit Head Coach John Shorey. "We've only got two football players. The rest are guys who have been developing in the program."
Paced by tries from their midfield of Zach Tavenner and Daniel Hodge, who combined for three, and with flanker Connor Rock putting in another player of the game performance, Jesuit put themselves in good shape for the final against an excellent Gonzaga team.
"Gonzaga deserve the be the #1 team in the country," said Shorey. "It's going to be a great game."