4A football: La Grande subdues Gladstone in quarterfinals, 14-0
The Gladstone Gladiators could not stop La Grande running back Nathan Reed when it counted Friday night.
Reed rushed for a game-high 186 yards and two touchdowns, and the La Grande defense knocked the legs out from under Gladstone's running game, lifting the Tigers to a 14-0 victory in Friday's OSAA Class 4A football quarterfinals at Eastern Oregon University's Community Stadium.
La Grande's defense held Gladstone to 50 yards total offense in the second half and 166 yards for the game as the No. 3 Tigers (10-0) advanced to the semifinals for the first time since 1976 to face The Dalles.
Gladstone's Mason Scheehean rushed for a team-high 117 yards in his final game for the Gladiators (7-3), who failed to capitalize on two interceptions in the first five minutes of the game and two trips inside the red zone in the first half.
"Our kids fought tooth and nail," Gladiators coach J.J. Jedrykowski said. "Going into it, as a coach you're thinking realistically that La Grande is better us up front and we're really going to have to play well to have a chance.
"We played well at times, but not well enough, and La Grande's kids are really good and they handled us pretty well."
The Gladiators caught a couple of early breaks when La Grande's first two offensive possessions ended with quarterback Parker Robinson throwing passes that were intercepted by Gladstone's Ryan Lee.
After the second interception, the Gladiators ran 12 plays — 11 run plays and one incomplete pass play — to move from their own 36-yard line to the La Grande 3, where they were faced with a fourth-and-goal situation.
At that point, the Gladiators had a choice to make. They could either turn to placekicker Mateo Burgos — the guy who kicked the 47-yard, game-winning field goal in last year's 30-27 quarterfinal win over La Grande — and try to take a 3-0 lead or they could try for a touchdown.
They decided to go for the six points.
Gladstone called for a quick, slant pass from quarterback Hudson Meyer to wide receiver Jaxon Jedrykowski, who was matched up one-on-one with La Grande defensive back Dawson Gaertner.
Jedrykowski, the coach's son, was lined up wide right and go open on an inside move to his left. Meyer delivered the ball on target and on time, and Jedrykowski got both hands on the ball, but couldn't make the grab.
"We called a pass and tried to surprise the defense," J.J. Jedrykowski said. "I was going to call timeout, but then I saw the alignment and Jaxon had a huge split and I thought, 'OK, he can take this kid one-on-one.' And he did. He just didn't finish the play.
"A timeout probably would have been best and we probably would have just taken the field goal. I just thought, 'OK, I don't know, I don't know.' And then before I could make up my mind, the ball was snapped and the ball was dropped."
Robinson, La Grande's senior quarterback, then led the Tigers on a nine-play, 97-yard drive the ended with Reed scoring on an 8-yard run around the left end.
Chris Woodworth tacked on the extra point and the Tigers led 7-0 with 8:46 to play in the second quarter.
Gladstone turned around and drove the ball to the La Grande 20, but then lost yardage on two plays and faced a third and 15 at the Tigers' 25-yard line when Meyer threw a pass that got intercepted by Gaertner, spoiling another scoring opportunity for the Glads.
It was still a one-score game when Gladstone took the second-half kickoff and drove as far as the La Grande 39. From there, Scheehean lost a yard on second down, and then Woodworth, the Tigers' defensive tackle, sacked Meyer for a 9-yard loss on third down, forcing the Gladiators to punt.
The Tigers then mounted a 10-play, 70-yard touchdown drive, taking a 14-0 lead when Reed followed lead blocker Keith Oswald into the end zone from 6 yards out with 1:53 to play in the third quarter.
There was still time for two more Gladstone possessions, but neither drive crossed midfield.
The first one ended with the Gladiators trying to throw a pass out of their punt formation that fell incomplete on fourth and one from their own 29 on the first play of the fourth quarter.
The other drive hit a major snag when Meyer fumbled a snap and took an 11-yard loss that turned second and five into a third and 16. Scheehean then was ruled out of bounds on a catch along the right sideline, the Gladiators were forced to punt, and they never saw the ball again.
For the game, La Grande ran a total of 44 plays and finished with 296 yards total offense. In addition to Reed's 186 yards on 21 carries, Robinson had 12 carries for 75 yards and completed 1 of 6 passes for 17 yards with three interceptions — all three picks coming in the first half.
Gladstone ran 47 plays and finished with 166 yards — 135 on the ground and 31 through the air. The Gladiators also went 4 for 12 in third-down situations and 1 for 3 on fourth-down tries.
Sebastian Peiffer had 10 carries for 32 yards, while Meyer had five carries for minus-18 yards and completed 2 of 6 passes for 31 yards with one interception.
"There were times when I knew we didn't practice very well, but I thought at the end of the year here we really started rolling and doing things the right way," J.J. Jedrykowski said. "To a certain extent, the kids overachieved a little bit because a lot of them hadn't had any real meaningful varsity experience before this season.
"The goal is always to win a state championship and I keep going back to the North Marion game (a 26-20 loss at North Marion). If we'd taken care of business there, we wouldn't have had to travel in the quarterfinals and maybe things are different.
"It's a lot of shoulda, woulda, coulda, but overall I'm proud of the kids and proud of their effort and how they stuck together. The overachieved to a certain extent and represented the school and the community well."
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