Who calls a counter-left run play on fourth-and-4 from midfield in a tie game with less than two minutes on the clock?
The Gladstone Gladiators, that's who.
Gladstone junior tailback Mason Scheehean took the ball heading left, and then cut right and broke loose on a 50-yard touchdown run with 1:11 to play, lifting the Gladiators to a 35-28 non-conference home win Friday over the Banks Braves in the season opener for both teams at Gladstone's Dick Baker Stadium.
"When I saw that hole, I busted through it and I ran for my life for that touchdown," said Scheehean, who finished with a game-high 120 yards rushing on 11 carries. "I'd been waiting for that the whole game. It was amazing."
Banks got the ball back at its own 23-yard line with 59 seconds left, but the Braves gained only three yards on a first-down run, and then senior quarterback Hayden Vandehey threw incomplete three times in a row, turning the ball over to the Gladiators on downs.
With 46 seconds remaining, all Gladstone senior quarterback Jake Gehrke had to do was take a knee three times and it was game over.
"Not an ideal start, by any means," Banks coach Cole Linehan said. "Poor execution on offense, defense, and special teams, all around. We made some plays and we were in it at the end, but we didn't make plays when we needed to."
Banks never led in the game, but the Braves came from behind to tie the score four different times, including Blake Markham's 83-yard kickoff return for a touchdown that tied it 28-28 with 2:44 to play.
Gladstone's Ben Hill returned the ensuing kickoff to his own 44, but then the Gladiators struggled to move the ball.
Gehrke threw incomplete on first down, Scheehean ran for six yards on second, Scheehean ran for no gain on third, and then Banks called a timeout with 1:22 left and the Gladiators looking at a fourth-and-4 play from the 50.
Gladstone decided to go for it.
Offensive coordinator Beau Gates made the call – counter left – from up in the coach's box, and Gladiators coach Wayne Harris talked it over with the players on the field during the timeout.
"It was a gutsy call, but we were playing to win," Harris said. "We knew that if we could hold our blocks and execute the play the way it's designed, we were automatic first down or better."
What did the Gladstone players think?
"We knew it was hit or miss, this was the game," Gehrke said. "This was it. It was gut-check time in the fourth quarter. Who wanted it more?
"It was a great call. Our linemen wanted that. Our linemen love counter."
Scheehean wasn't sure if it was left tackle Jackson Simmons, left guard Jack Foss, tight end J.P. Peterson or one of the other offensive linemen who made the key block that created the crease for him to run through.
"I was just looking for the hole," he said. "Then I saw the end zone and all I saw was green."
Linehan said the Braves had the right defense called, but got caught over-pursuing the play.
"We knew that they were going up the middle on us," Linehan said. "We had a defense that run into it, but our linebackers got a little anxious, walked up, and got washed away. Against the wing-T, you can't do that.
"So, it was the right place, but Gladstone executed a great play there."
Gladstone's Spencer Boyd scored on touchdown runs of 1 and 6 yards, Kalehb Newberry added a 2-yard scoring run, and Ben Hill caught a 29-yard TD pass from Gehrke for the Gladiators, who ran 61 plays and finished with 355 yards offense.
Gehrke, making his first career start at quarterback, completed 13 of 18 passes for 146 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Boyd was the top receiver with four catches for 45 yards, while Newberry had 11 carries for 74 yards.
"We came out and played to our potential in spurts," Harris said. "We have a lot of things we need to clean up, but I knew coming into this that we had an opportunity to beat a team like Banks if we played to our potential. And we did."
Banks kept the close throughout behind its big-play offense as Vandehey tossed touchdown passes of 43 and 48 yards to Markham, and had another 17-yard strike to Blake Gobel.
"We have a lot of stuff to work on," said Vandehey, who completed 13 of 28 passes for 250 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions -- one pick coming on the first offensive play of the game, the other on a fourth-down pass into the end zone. "We came out slow and Gladstone got us early. We'll figure it out on offense.
"It's our first game. We had some moments of good stuff, but we'll go watch film and we'll find out where we made mistakes and we'll fix it for next week."
Markham finished with six receptions for 172 yards, but also saw a potential 82-yard touchdown pass slip through his hands with the score tied 14-14 with 3:57 to play in the third quarter.
"Next time, we need to come out with a better attitude and more confidence in what we've got," Markham said. "Something like this, we've prepared too much to go down like this. It definitely was a wake-up call."
Josiah Ochoa led Banks' ground game with seven carries for 26 yards, and Vandehey added eight carries for 24 yards.
Overall, the Braves ran 47 plays for 314 yards, while playing from behind for most of the game.
"Kids need to learn how to play that way," Linehan said. "They need to learn that they've just got to continue to play and not think about the score. I know it's cliché to say and it's coach talk, but if you just execute and play the way you're supposed to play, it will work itself out.
"One score is nothing is high school football, because anything can happen at any time. Our kids need to learn that quick."
Banks hits the road in Week 2 to face Sweet Home, which fell 28-12 Friday at Marist Catholic in Eugene.
Gladstone returns home to face Marshfield, which dropped a 23-21 decision at home to North Bend in Friday's season opener.
GLADSTONE 35, BANKS 28
BANKS 7 0 7 14 -- 28
GLADSTONE 7 7 7 14 -- 35
G -- Ben Hill 29 pass from Jake Gehrke (Mateo Burgos kick)
B -- Blake Markham 43 pass from Hayden Vandehey (Jacob Slifka kick)
G -- Spencer Boyd 1 run (Burgos kick)
B -- Markham 48 pass from Vandehey (Slifka kick)
G -- Kalehb Newberry 2 run (Burgos kick)
B -- Blake Gobel 17 pass from Vandehey (Slifka kick)
G -- Boyd 6 run (Burgos kick)
B -- Markham 83 kickoff return (Slifka kick)
G -- Mason Scheehean 50 run (Burgos kick)
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