North Bend Bulldogs win 10-7, advance to their first semifinal

by: JONATHAN HOUSE - North Bend defenders make a sandwich of Gladstone senior linebacker Ben Hunter after Hunter makes an interception in Fridays state-quarterfinal game at Gladstone.There were tears aplenty on Gladstone’s sidelines late Friday night, while across the way, on North Bend’s sidelines, there was jubilation.

The seventh-ranked North Bend Bulldogs had good reason to celebrate. They had just knocked third-ranked Gladstone out of the Class 4A high school football playoffs, winning 10-7, in a defensive slugfest.

Gladstone entered the game averaging 40 points a game, and it was only the second time this season that the Gladiators had been held to a single touchdown. [The other time was a 19-7 loss to Tri-Valley Conference champion La Salle].

For the visiting Bulldogs, it marked the first time that a North Bend High School football team had won a state quarterfinal game and advanced to the semifinals.

“We’re the first team to make it past the quarterfinals, and it feels amazing!” said North Bend senior running back Clayton Duryee. “Gladstone is a very high-scoring team. We came out knowing we had to play a hell of a game, and that’s what we did.”

“I feel great!” said North Bend senior quarterback Hamilton Mateski. “We’ve made history for the school and, even better, I get to keep playing football.”

Mateski added, “It means a lot, because we had a good team last year and didn’t make it. I’m glad I got to do it with this one.”

A year ago the Bulldogs dropped a heartbreaker to 2011 state champion La Salle in the quarterfinals, 32-30.

“We came out and played hard, but I guess you can’t win them all,” said Gladstone senior quarterback D.J. Williams. “We played a good team, and they came here and played better than we did tonight.”

“I think we just didn’t come out full-speed,” said Gladstone senior punter Stetson Richardson. “We fought a great battle and we fought to the end, but we just couldn’t quite pull it out.”

“We’ll come back next year,” vowed Gladstone sophomore running back Handsome Smith. “We’ve got to come back and do it for the seniors.”

“We played tremendous defense against a very good football team,” said Gladstone coach Jon Wolf. “We just didn’t get the job done on offense, and I take the blame for that. I was disappointed with our discipline. We had a few bad calls and we got a little too fired up. That’s where coaching comes in, and I needed to do a better job.”

Still, Wolf said he was very proud of his players for the way they battled.

“I saw as much tears as I’ve ever seen,” Wolf said. “And it was the underclassmen as well as the seniors. These kids play with a lot of passion and they care about each other. That’s what makes them so special....

“I’m proud of my players, especially the 12 seniors. I was told when they came in as freshmen that they hadn’t had a lot of success in youth football and they didn’t know whether they were going to have enough players to field a team. I’m disappointed for those seniors, but it’s still been a good season. They’ve had a great run in high school football and a good senior season. Nine-and-two, that’s not too shabby.”

Several of the seniors had played for a Gladstone football team that advanced all the way to the semifinals their sophomore season.

The 12 seniors on the team included: senior captains Williams, Dalton Moe and Ben Hunter; Richardson, Dakota Hollingsworth, Michael Stoutt, Jordan Hernandez, Austin Winter, Oscar Sanchez, John Hampton, Kyle Cavitt and Kyle Betnar.

Richardson had an impressive final game, averaging 34 yards on 10 punts, while facing intense defensive pressure on more than one attempt.

Gladstone and North Bend both fumbled the ball often, due to aggressive play by the defensive players on both teams. And tempers flared on more than one occasion.

But the Gladiators had the most costly fumble. With the game still a scoreless tie and just 2:33 remaining in the second quarter, Hunter intercepted a pass and returned it to the North Bend 24. A facemask play on the interception advanced the ball to the 12.

Two plays later, Gladstone sophomore running back Zach Smith carried to the 5-yard line, where he fumbled the ball away in controversy. There was a very slow whistle on the play, and Gladstone fans, players and coaches believed Gladstone would have maintained possession had the play been whistled dead at the end of Smith’s forward progress.

North Bend, on the next play, completed a pass at the 20. Gladstone defenders forced a fumble on that play. Flags flew as players on both teams pig-piled on the ball. The play ended with North Bend maintaining possession and Gladstone linebacker Oscar Sanchez being ejected.

North Bend broke the scoreless tie on its first possession of the second half, when Bulldog kicker Michael Hobson split the uprights with a 25-yard field goal.

Following some Gladstone penalties, Richardson was forced to punt from his own end zone near the midpoint of the fourth quarter, and the Bulldogs took possession at the Gladstone 35. Six plays later, North Bend 6-3, 225-pound quarterback Hamilton Mateski took the ball wide right five yards for the game’s first touchdown. Hobson split the uprights on the PAT for a 10-0 lead, and the Dogs appeared to have the game in hand.

But there was no quit in the Gladiators. Two plays later, Handsome Smith broke a 43-yard run to the North Bend 16-yard line. Williams found Jordan Hernandez open in the end zone for a 16-yard touchdown pass. Richardson boomed the PAT kick, and North Bend’s lead was 10-7 with 1:47 remaining in the game.

There was a late hit on Williams’ touchdown pass, and the ball was placed on the North Bend 45 for the ensuing kickoff.

As everyone expected, the Gladiators attempted an onside kick. And it nearly worked, as Gladiators were all around the ball when the kickoff play was over. But lady luck had sided with the Bulldogs, as the onside attempt took a North Bend bounce, and didn’t advance the required 10 yards.

The Bulldogs were awarded the ball at their own 44 and they wound down the clock for the 10-7 victory.

The only other time that either team threatened to score was in the closing seconds of the first half, when Hobson had a 34-yard field goal attempt hit the crossbar and bounce back in front of the goal posts.

North Bend finished with a 298- to 179-yard advantage in total offense on the night.

Mateski completed 13-for-33 passes for 124 yards and he rushed 18 times for 52 yards. Duryee rushed 15 times for 52 yards.

Handsome Smith led the Gladiator attack with 18 carries for 92 yards, including his long run that set up Gladstone’s only touchdown.

Williams completed 4-of-7 passes for 20 yards.

The win advanced the seventh-ranked Bulldogs (10-1) to a state semifinal game with 11th-ranked Ontario, scheduled for 2:15 Saturday at Hillsboro Stadium. Ontario (9-2) upset second-ranked La Salle 23-21 in a Saturday quarterfinal game at La Salle.

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