Football: Molalla shines in second half to beat Gladstone 13-10
If there were just two words to sum up last Friday's Tri-Valley football matchup between visiting Gladstone and Molalla, Glads' sophomore quarterback Hudson Meyer summed it up perfectly: missed opportunities.
That was certainly the case for Gladstone all night, as penalties plagued them throughout the game and bailed Molalla out of a number of tough situations, including two long Gladstone touchdowns – a 90-yard pick-six at the end of the first quarter and an 85-yard punt return midway through the fourth – that were called back due to flags thrown for blocks in the back.
"We had a couple of big plays, my interception that I took to the house, we had a flag, so that's kind of a big momentum changer," Gladstone senior RB/DB Damian Alvarado said after the game. "We had that return late in the fourth which would have put us ahead … you take [those penalties] away from the game, we have clean hits, then it's a whole different ballgame."
"There's a bunch of 'if's', but we can't live off of those because then we're going to be a team who lives off of 'what if's' instead of our potential," he said.
Play of the Game:
With Gladstone leading 10-7 halfway through the fourth quarter, the Glads faced a third and five situation from their own 17 yard line when sophomore quarterback Hudson Meyer's pass was intercepted by Molalla junior Jonas Richins and returned up to the two yard line. The next play, Molalla senior quarterback Chase Jazdinski raced to the sidelines on a quarterback keeper, finding his way into the endzone for the go-ahead score that would keep until the quarter expired, giving Molalla a 13-10 Tri-Valley Conference victory after being down 10-0 at the half.
Both teams started off a bit slow in the first quarter, turning the ball over on their first drives despite a big 40-yard completion from Molalla senior quarterback Chase Jazdinski to senior TE Brandon Palmer that put the Indians in the redzone, only to have Gladstone's defense force a turnover on downs.
The next Molalla drive, Jazdinski found junior WR Silverio Lopez deep down the sidelines for a 45-yard completion up to the 25 headed in, followed by another seven yards on an A-gap run by sophomore RB Damian Pingo that were erased by a big tackle for loss from Gladstone that put the Indians in a third and ten situation. Molalla tries a sweep play and gets nowhere, but then go for it on fourth and nine as Jazdinski kept it around the outside with enough for a fresh set of downs. The next play, Jazdinski threw at Lopez in the flat as Alvarado got there first, intercepting the ball and running it back 90 yards to the house, only to see it called back for a block in the back penalty thrown way back near where the ball was picked off.
After the penalty was tacked on, Gladstone took over at their own 19 as the first quarter expired, but couldn't do anything as they were forced into a three and out.
Gladstone was finally able to make something happen on their next drive as Meyer found junior WR Ben Hill on third and four for a 40-yard gain up to the Molalla 26 for a big first down with six minutes left in the half. But Molalla's defense stepped up and forced the Glads into a third and 11 situation; the Glads lined up in trips and attempted a screen to the outside as Jazdinski sniffed it out right away and made the tackle for loss to force a long fourth down situation.
Gladstone brought out the field goal team for a 40-yard attempt that was blocked, but they got another chance as the Indians were called for running into the kicker. They would pay for that call as the Glads, from five yards closer, went for it again and saw it fall through to put them up 3-0 with four minutes left in the half.
On Molalla's next drive, they tried a sweep play to sophomore RB Max Tate as Gladstone read it almost immediately and made the tackle for loss ten yards behind the line of scrimmage, forcing the ball out as the Glads recovered it at the 18 with a look at the endzone again.
They would capitalize this time on a six-yard completion from Meyer to senior TE Tyler Carrier to go up 10-0 after the PAT, which would hold until halftime.
The third quarter was a defensive struggle as both teams turned the ball over every possession until about three minutes remained in the quarter; Molalla decided to go for it on fourth and ten from their own 48 yard line as a delay of game flag was thrown. The Indians decided to still go for it as Jazdinski found Lopez again in the flat, who maneuvered through Gladstone defenders and made it up to the 24 heading in for a 20-yard gain. The next play, Gladstone was called for a later hit as Molalla moved up halfway to the goal line. Molalla then tried the sweep, which did not seem to be working for them at all Friday night, and lost nine yards to face a third and 15 situation after an incomplete pass on second down.
The quarter expired and Molalla faced third and long; Jazdinski threw at Lopez again as his pass fell incomplete. Molalla then faced a fourth and 16 situation from the 20 with their chances slipping away when they decided to go for it. Jazdinski made magic happen as he scrambled out of the pocket and found sophomore WR Jeff Larsen in the corner of the endzone for a 20-yard touchdown to make it a three-point game with Gladstone leading 10-7.
"We're feeling good, feeling confident," Lopez said after the game. "We feel like we can win the league, and we're going to try our best."
"I really loved our defensive effort tonight, I felt like we were unstoppable so I want that to continue, and offensively, I think we need to finish drives better."
Gladstone's offense continued to struggle in the second half as they were forced to punt on their next drive as Molalla took over at their own 15 with 11 minutes left in the game.
Molalla made their way up the field and into the redzone before the tides turned for Gladstone as Jazdinski's pass was intercepted, giving the Glads the ball back at their own 12 with about 6:42 left to play.
But Molalla's defense stepped up again, forcing a third and five situation; Meyer dropped back to pass as Molalla junior LB Jonas Richins read it and intercepted the ball, returning it up to the two-yard line, which allowed Jazdinski to find his way to the endzone on the next play on a quarterback keeper for the go-ahead score.
Gladstone still had about five minutes to work with, however, as they took over at their own 25 after an attempted onside kick from Molalla. The Glads did themselves in on this drive, however, as Hill was called for pass interference on Larsen as the ball was in the air, which ultimately didn't matter since Larsen found a way to wrangle the ball into his arms for an interception and give Molalla the ball back at their own 43.
Gladstone's defense stepped up this time and forced Molalla to punt on fourth and 12. Hill received the kick from the 20 and made his way around the corner and up the sidelines for the would-be touchdown, but penalties again plagued the Glads and the score was brought back for a block in the back.
Gladstone instead took over at the 17, eventually facing a third and 10 situation after two incomplete balls. After using their second timeout, Gladstone was able to convert the long third down as Meyer found senior TE Walker Melton deep for a 25-yard gain up to the 41 as 1:40 remained in the game; Gladstone's shot was not over. A few plays later, Gladstone found themselves at the Molalla 23-yard line knocking at the door, but the Indians' defense again stepped up as sophomore DB Casey Brooks picked off Meyer's pass on the final play of the game to secure the win for the Indians.
"Gladstone is a great team, but it didn't feel like we were down 10-nothing [at the half]," Molalla head coach Tim Baker said. "The confidence was just oozing out of the kids at that time, and they weren't worried, they weren't hanging their heads, so I knew we were going to be able to come out in the second half and do something."
Up next, Molalla will head to Crook County (1-4, 0-1) on Oct. 6 and then return home the following week to take on Estacada (4-1, 2-0) for a Thursday matchup on Oct. 12, which will serve as their homecoming game.
For Gladstone, they'll return home for two weeks to take on Madras (1-4, 0-2) followed by Crook County.
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