Glencoe ousts Ashland in 5A quarterfinal
HILLSBORO — There was a defensive stop at the 1-yard line, two interceptions in the end zone and a momentum-stealing touchdown pass with seconds to go in the first half.
And for once, Ashland wasn't the one making all the big plays.
The team that has lived on the edge all season long was finally shoved off Saturday, as Glencoe used a power running game and stout defense to sideswipe the previously undefeated Grizzlies, 28-14, in the OSAA Class 5A state quarterfinals.
Playing in front of a packed house at Hare Field, the fourth-ranked Crimson Tide (10-2) gained 234 yards rushing, including 171 by David Puckett, to advance to next week's semifinal round, where it will face Bend at a site to be determined. The Grizzlies (11-1), meanwhile, are left to ponder what might have been after a handful of near-misses snuffed out the program's best season in nine years.
"It's a bitter-sweet feeling," Ashland head coach Charlie Hall said, his eyes still teary from an emotional postgame meeting with the team. "It's a great year and a great group of kids, but if you look at the game like I do as a coach, we had our opportunities."
Plenty of them, as it turned out.
But Glencoe denied them all before finally putting away the Grizzlies when Puckett scored his third touchdown of the day on an 11-yard run with 1 minute, 25 seconds to go. The game-clinching score came only minutes after Ashland fell short on its most important drive of the day — its chance to tie the game didn't pan out after Matt Dierks' fourth-and-nine pass was knocked out of Charlie Sebrell's hands at the last moment at the Glencoe 38.
The Crimson Tide fans stormed the field afterward, recreating a scene that practically became a weekly tradition in Ashland while the Grizzlies pulled out heart-stopping wins over Marshfield, Crater, Klamath Union and Corvallis.
But not against the Tide.
"Our kids just kept making plays and plays, and that was a good team we played today in Ashland," Glencoe head coach Tim Duvall said. "Any time somebody's undefeated, they've done some things right themselves."
Duvall went on to stress the significance of the Tide's first big play. In the first quarter Ashland drove 74 yards in nine plays to earn a third-and-goal from Glencoe's 1-yard line. The Tide then stopped Ashland twice in a row, stuffing Dierks' fourth-down sneak within inches of the goal line to give the ball back to its offense with the game still tied 0-0. Twelve plays and 99 yards later, Glencoe went up 6-0 on Puckett's 3-yard burst with 7:18 to go in the first half.
"Overall," Duvall said, "I think on both sides of the ball, our guys did what we wanted to do: run the football and play solid defense. I think we were able to accomplish those things."
Ashland tied the game with a 69-yard drive of its own capped by Dierks' 9-yard touchdown pass to Josh Hogeland. But Glencoe again bounced back, this time burning Ashland right before the half when quarterback AJ Burke sidestepped two would-be tacklers in the backfield before finding a wide-open Kyle Kirwan in the end zone. The 23-yard play made it 14-7 after Mitch Wagner's point-after kick.
Puckett, who was "limited" to 26 carries with a thigh bruise, struck again on the last play of the third quarter, bursting around the right end en route to a 40-yard touchdown run. The play followed another game-breaker by the Tide defense: an interception in the end zone that cut short a long Grizz drive that went from the Ashland 19 to the Glencoe 20.
The Grizzlies played desperate on their next drive, converting a fourth-and-two on their own 41 en route to their second score of the day. Dierks' 4-yard TD pass to Charlie Sebrell, who led the Grizzlies with nine catches for 113 yards, made it 21-14.
After a three-and-out by Glencoe the Grizzlies took over again with 6:54 to go and a chance to tie, but a holding penalty led to a third-and-34 situation that Ashland couldn't overcome.
Dierks, who faced a heavy rush most of the day, completed 22 of 34 passes for 235 yards and two TDs, while Ashland running back Lewis Sebrell ran 13 times for 57 yards.
Burke completed 9 of 11 passes for 111 yards and one score.
"It was amazing coming this far to be with these guys, having this much love on a team," said Hogeland, who caught three passes for 20 yards. "I feel great right now. Even though we lost, I feel like it was a great accomplishment for this team."