Last-second field goal lifts Gladstone over La Grande, 30-27
As Gladstone sophomore Mateo Burgos lined up to kick the longest field goal of his career with 4.9 seconds to play Friday, he thought about the extra point that had gotten partially blocked six minutes earlier.
This was his chance to make up for that.
"I was pretty confident," Burgos said. "As long as the snap was good and the hold was good, we were going to make the field goal."
Long snapper Jack Foss made a solid snap, holder Jaxon Jedrykowski put the ball in place, and Burgos drilled a 47-yard field goal as time expired, lifting the No. 2 Gladiators to a 30-27 victory over La Grande in the OSAA Class 4A football quarterfinals at Gladstone's Dick Baker Stadium.
"I thought it was going to the left a little bit, so I kind of got nervous," Burgos said. "And then I saw it going back to the right and it had the distance, so I was pretty happy."
Gladstone's Ben Hill scored two touchdowns, and Sabastian Peiffer and Spencer Boyd scored one each, but it was Burgos' field goal at the end of a seven-play, 35-yard drive that propelled the Gladiators (8-2) into Saturday's 11 a.m. semifinal at Hillsboro Stadium against No. 3 Seaside, a 44-42 winner in overtime against Estacada.
"That was honestly the craziest game I've ever played in my high school career," Gladstone senior Jackson Simmons said. "We didn't play as well as we wanted to, but it was a back-and-forth game and we never stopped fighting.
"And that last-second field goal by Mateo, that just set things on fire."
It puts the Gladiators into the semifinals for the first time since 2014 – the same season they went all the way and beat North Bend to claim their fourth state championship.
"I've been telling our kids all year that this team is special and we have an opportunity to do something incredible," Gladstone coach Wayne Harris said. "To be one of the final four teams, it's a huge accomplishment four our players, our school, and our community. And we're not done yet."
La Grande opened a 20-14 halftime lead, but the Tigers (7-3) struggled to move the ball in the second half when their first three drives ended with a fumble, a punt, and an interception in the end zone.
Trailing 27-20, the Tigers got the ball back after a Gladstone punt at their own 47-yard line with 2:43 remaining and went on a seven-play scoring drive that ended with quarterback Parker Robinson throwing a 16-yard touchdown pass on fourth down to Blaine Shaw with 49.5 seconds remaining.
Hayden Shafer tacked on the extra point to tie the score at 27-27.
"We knew it was going to be a fist fight in the end," La Grande coach Rich McIlmoil said. "We just had to keep battling, more than anything."
Boyd handled the ensuing kickoff for Gladstone and returned it to his own 36. From there, Kahleb Newberry ran for 15 yards and a first down, J.P. Peterson ran for 3 yards, Jake Gehrke threw to Jedrykowski for 12 yards and another first down, Peiffer ran for 1 yard, Gehrke threw incomplete, and, finally, Gehrke ran for 4 yards, taking the ball to La Grande 29 where the Gladiators called timeout with 4.9 seconds remaining.
"We knew we were probably going to try a field goal, so that last play we were just trying to get closer," Gehrke said. "La Grande was bringing lots of pressure, so it was hard to get a good pass off.
"The last play wasn't a designed run. There was pressure coming and I just tried to get outside and get out of bounds and get as many yards as I could to make it easier for Mateo."
Instead of kicking from 51 yards out, Burgos got to try from 47.
"Honestly, I knew he could make it, because he hits from 51 and 52 in practice," Harris said. "Yeah, I know there's no pressure in practice, but he has the leg, and if we got a good snap and a good hold, we knew it was going through."
Said Gehrke: "I'm just praying that he makes it. I know in practice he hits ones from that far and farther, but I'm just praying."
Across the field, the Tigers were bracing for one of two possible outcomes -- overtime or season over.
"My coach in the box said, 'There's no way this kid can make it,'" McIlmoil said. "And I'm going to be fully honest, I watched him before the game, and I really watched him hard, actually, because I knew this game was going to be close and he was hitting 'em.
"I told my coach in the box, 'He's probably going to make it. He's really good.' And he kicked it right through the uprights."
Burgos, whose previous long had been from 40 yards against Marshfield, said he couldn't help but think back to Hill's 4-yard touchdown run that made it 27-20 and how his extra point try hit the crossbar after La Grande's Gabe Shukle had got a hand on it.
"I was thinking in my head, 'Well, Coach just told me I'd missed that extra point, which would have won the game if I'd made it,'" Burgos said. "So, I knew I had to kick something for him that was going to make him happy."
And he made it with some room to spare.
"Yeah, I think it probably would have been good from about 50 yards," Burgos said.
"We knew Gladstone was good," McIlmoil said. "I told my boys, 'You know what? At the end of the day, there's only so much you can do and then you've got to tip your hat and say, 'Good job,' to the other team, because they played really good too.'"
LA GRANDE 14 6 0 7 -- 27
GLADSTONE 7 7 7 9 -- 30
L -- Blaine Shaw 4 pass from Parker Robinson (Hayden Shafer kick)
G -- Spencer Boyd 20 run (Mateo Burgos kick)
L -- Gabe Shukle 9 pass from Robinson (Shafer kick)
G -- Ben Hill 60 pass from Jake Gehrke (Burgos kick)
L -- Robinson 10 run (kick failed)
G -- Sabastian Peiffer 19 run (Burgos kick)
G -- Hill 4 run (kick blocked)
L -- Blaine Shaw 16 pass from Robinson (Shafer kick)
G -- Burgos 47 FG