Gladstone fires up in the second half to drop Banks, while La Salle ekes out a 22-21 win over Siuslaw

by: JONATHAN HOUSE - Gladstone linebacker Oscar Sanchez pressures Banks senior quarterback Graysen Partain in Fridays state playoff game with the Braves. Sanchez forced a fourth-quarter fumble that resulted in a touchdown that put Gladstone on top for the first time in the game.The third-ranked Gladstone Gladiators were in state-championship form for a half and it proved enough, as the Gladiators rallied from a 16-0 first-half deficit to beat 14th-ranked Banks 27-16 in a first-round game of the Class 4A high school football playoffs, played at Gladstone on Friday.

The Gladiators struggled to mount any kind of an offense in the first half. They picked up their first first down with just 4:02 remaining in the first half and their only scoring threat of the half came with 33 ticks left on the first-half clock, when Banks halted a drive with a pass interception at the Banks 17.

It was like night and day in the second half, as the Gladiators started the third quarter like a house afire, taking the opening kickoff and marching 77 yards to the Brave end zone in 14 plays.

Dalton Moe’s nine-yard sprint to the end zone trimmed the Braves’ lead to 16-6.

Later in the quarter, the Gladiators put together a 68-yard, seven-play scoring drive, with Dakota Hollingsworth doing the honors from the 5. Stetson Richardson’s on-target PAT kick made it Banks 16, Gladstone 13.

And Moe brought Gladstone fans to their feet in the opening seconds of the fourth period when he returned a fumbled pass reception 42 yards to the end zone for Gladstone’s first lead of the game, at 20-16.

A short time later, Handsome Smith busted a 54-yard run down the left sideline, making it 27-16 Gladstone, and the game belonged to the Gladiators.

Banks penetrated just inside the Gladiator 10 as time ran out, but that was the Braves’ only threat of the second half.

“We had a week off [between games] and in the first half we were jittery,” said Gladstone senior co-captain D.J. Williams. “We had the butterflies....

“When we got together at halftime everybody looked frustrated. I said we just need to settle down and play our game, and that’s what we did. We came out in the second half and played Gladiator football.”

“In the first half, everyone was up tight and we were playing not to lose, instead of playing to win,” Moe said. “In the second half, we upped our intensity and turned that around....

“Banks is an awesome team and they came out playing hard-hitting, smash-mouth football. I’m happy that we were able to respond the way we did.”

“We came out hard in the first half,” said Banks senior co-captain Dakota Kemper. “In the second half we came out a little too cocky, and it ended up costing us the game.”

“We run a speed offense and I think we wore them down,” said Gladstone senior co-captain Ben Hunter.

The first half belonged to Banks. The Braves were all business to start the game. Penetrating the Gladiator defense like a hot knife through butter, the Braves scored on the fourth play of the game, with Kemper doing the honors from the 2.

The Gladiators fumbled the ball away near the midfield stripe on their first possession. And eight plays later, Banks kicker Aaron Streblow split the uprights for a 21-yard field goal and a 9-0 Brave lead.

Banks junior quarterback Garrett Markham capped off a penalty-aided 11-play drive with a four-yard dash to the end zone to make it 16-0 Banks just three minutes into the second period.

Moe’s fumble recovery for a touchdown early in the fourth quarter was pivotal in the turnaround.

“It was a screen pass,” Moe said. “Their kid caught it, but then one of our backers, Oscar Sanchez, came up and stripped the ball. It took a little hop and I got lucky and came up with it. My whole team was blocking, so it was a pretty easy trip to the end zone.”

“I never doubted we could come back and pull it out,” Williams said. “When we play our game and play fast, I believe we can compete with almost anybody.”

Doing nearly all the damage in the second half, the Gladiators finished up with a 318- to 278-yard edge in total offense.

Handsome Smith (8 carries/107 yards), Moe (15 carries/59 yards), Zach Smith (5 carries/50 yards) and Trevor Browning (8 carries/43 yards) headed a balanced Gladiator ground attack that netted 294 yards.

Three Gladstone quarterbacks went 4-for-9 for 34 yards in the air.

Banks senior quarterback Graysen Partain completed 14-of-26 passes for 162 yards and he rushed 13 times for 53 yards. Banks star running back Dakota Kemper netted only 35 yards in 14 trips with the pigskin, well below his average.

Banks, which entered the contest averaging 40 points an outing, finished the season with a 7-4 record.

The win advanced Gladstone (9-1, 4-1) to a quarterfinal game with seventh-ranked North Bend. Gametime is this Friday at 7 p.m. at Gladstone.

The Far West League champion North Bend Bulldogs won big last Friday, dropping 10th-ranked Klamath Union 42-20.

The Bulldogs this season have outscored opponents by an average score of 40-20 en route to a 9-1 record. They are riding a seven-game win string.

The Bulldogs dropped Molalla 58-31 in their first game of the season. Gladstone, which has outscored its first 10 opponents by an average score of 39-12, beat Molalla 47-8 in an Oct. 11 game at Gladstone.

North Bend took La Salle down to the wire in a 32-30 loss to the Falcons in last year’s quarterfinals.

Falcons edge

Vikings 22-21

Second-ranked La Salle escaped with a 22-21 win over 15th-ranked Siuslaw on Friday in a rematch of last year’s state championship game. La Salle prevailed 45-40 in the 2011 final, earning its very first state title in football.

La Salle’s 2012 state-title run nearly came to an end in last Friday’s first-round state playoff game, as the Vikings went up 21-16, when Siuslaw 6-2, 190-pound senior quarterback Jake Thompson scored a touchdown on a short run with just 2:57 to play.

But there was no quit in the Falcons. La Salle quarterback Mark Holenstein found the end zone with 37 seconds to play, and the Falcons claimed the spoils.

There was plenty of action in the fourth quarter of the game. Thompson scored on a 2-yard run three minutes into the final period for a 14-10 Viking lead. Colin Meisner answered for La Salle barely a minute later to make it 16-14 La Salle.

La Salle led 10-0 after a quarter of play, scoring on a 21-yard field goal by Holenstein and a 6-yard touchdown run by Meisner.

Siuslaw answered, with Viking 5-8, 145-pound senior running back Alex Snow scoring on a 24-yard run early in the second period to narrow the gap to 10-7.

The Falcons hurt their own cause with 100 yards in penalties. Siuslaw defenders also made things tough on Holenstein, intercepting the ball three times.

La Salle junior linebacker Ryan Cavanagh had a career night on defense, making 16 tackles.

The Falcons finished the night with a 292- to 264-yard edge in total offense, even with all the penalties.

Holenstein completed 9-of-16 passes for 129 yards, connecting with five different receivers.

Meisner rushed for 129 yards on 20 carries.

Thompson was big for the Vikings, rushing 25 times for 121 yards and completing four passes for 30 yards. Snow picked up 94 yards on just 11 carries.

The win advanced the Falcons (8-2) to a quarterfinal game with 11th-ranked Ontario (8-2). Gametime is 1 p.m. Saturday, at La Salle. The Tigers upset eighth-ranked North Valley on the road last Friday, 39-34.

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