Last-minute TD lifts Gladstone over upset-minded Woodburn, 30-28
Gladstone's Ben Hill caught a 16-yard touchdown pass from Jake Gehrke with 37 seconds to play as the No. 3 Gladiators clinched the 4A Special District 2 championship with a 30-28 road win Friday over the Woodburn Bulldogs.
Gehrke completed 9 of 19 passes for 127 yards with two touchdowns and rushed for another score in leading the Gladiators (6-2, 5-0 SD 2) to their fourth league championship in six seasons.
"That was our goal -- to win the league outright," Gladiators coach Wayne Harris said. "Our offensive line controlled the game up front and our defense played together as one. It was a good, all-around team effort."
Gladstone led 24-14 when Woodburn scored twice in the fourth quarter, taking a 28-24 lead on quarterback Nathan Corpuz's 4-yard run with 2:44 to play.
Gehrke, the Gladiators' senior quarterback, then guided his team on an 80-yard touchdown drive that ended with Hill scoring the go-ahead touchdown on a slant pass.
Woodburn's final possession ended when Gladstone's Jaxon Jedrykowski intercepted a Corpuz pass, helping seal the Gladiators' first outright league title since 2014 -- the same season they went on to win the Class 4A state championship.
"Even though we were down in crunch time, it was good to see us sustain an 80-yard drive in the final three minutes with no penalties or turnovers," Harris said. "We had great ball control and marched downfield for the go-ahead touchdown.
"We haven't played a perfect game yet, but the last two games we've cut down on a lot of mistakes and we're playing right about at 85 percent efficiency, so we're improving which is nice to see."
Gladstone's Sabastian Peiffer led the ground game with 12 carries for 125 yards and a touchdown, Mason Scheehean added 15 carries for 72 yards, and Gehrke had eight carries for 24 yards and a touchdown.
For Woodburn, Corpus completed 13 of 23 passes for 301 yards, including a 49-yard touchdown pass to Luis Rodriguez.
R.J. Veliz also scored on a 74-yard punt return for the Bulldogs (5-3, 2-3).
Gladstone landed the No. 2 seed for the Class 4A state playoffs and will await the results of Friday's play-in round before knowing which team they will host in the opening round on Nov. 2 at Dick Baker Stadium.
-- From staff reports