Braves win showdown with big plays
GLADSTONE — Westwood and Gladstone hooked up in a Mid-Peninsula Conference showdown between unbeaten teams Friday night that didn’t disappoint.
The Braves relied on three big plays, slowed down Westwood’s potent ground attack and pulled off a 20-12 victory on Veterans Night at Marble Athletic Field.
“We fought hard all game,” Braves’ tailback Owen Hanson said. “Coach (Jeff Hansen) said we just have to keep fighting and we’ll win this game and that’s what we did. We fought right to the end.”
It came right down to the end, too.
Gladstone took a 20-6 lead after Hanson rambled 39 yards for a score to help extend the Braves’ lead to 20-6 with 2.5 seconds left in the third quarter. He received a key block from Jeff Stenson on the edge.
“I just got it,” Hanson said about the big play that helped cement the win. “Our line made a perfect hole for me to run through. I always tell them if they make the holes for me I’ll just keep going with it.”
The Patriots came right back on their next possession and drove 58 yards in nine plays, with Taylor Dellangelo scoring on a 10-yard run that pulled the Patriots within 20-12 with 7:30 remaining.
Gladstone was forced to punt on its next possession and Doby Gillis booted a 47-yarder and Westwood took over at its 9-yard line with 5:17 remaining.
The Patriots, led by scrambling quarterback Nathan Beckman marched to the Braves’ 31-yard line, but Darrin Johnson’s interception put an end to the Patriots’ comeback attempt.
Gladstone ran out the final 41 seconds to improve to 4-0 overall and in the M-PC, while Westwood slips to 3-1 and 0-1.
“What a whale of a game,” Hansen said. “Westwood is a quality football team. It was a hard-hitting affair. It was a heck of an effort by both teams. There was a lot of grit and toughness and just no quit by our guys. I am really proud of my team.”
A possible offensive shootout between the teams turned into a defensive battle.
Gladstone relied on Johnson’s arm in the first half as he connected with Stenson on a 24-yard touchdown pass and added a 43-yard TD strike Spencer Husbye as the Braves took a 13-0 lead late in the second quarter.
Westwood, fueled by Ethan Burke’s long kickoff return to the Braves’ 14-yard line, got the momentum back as Beckman scored on a 1-yard TD plunge to pull the Patriots within 13-6 with 22 seconds left in the half.
Westwood had some bad snaps and two turnovers, the first was a lost fumble that led to Johnson’s first TD pass.
“I thought our kids executed the game plan, but jumping offsides and backs splitting in a big game like that, against a great team like that, that’s the difference tonight,” Westwood coach Scott Syrjala said. “Gladstone has a very good team. We made too many mistakes. I’m disappointed. That is one I feel we should have won.”
Hansen was pleased with his team’s special teams and playing field position with some solid punting from Gillis.
Westwood averaged more than 300 yards per game in its potent ground attack, but Gladstone limited the Patriots to 213 total yards, with 142 on the ground.
Beckman rushed for 125 yards and threw for 71 yards to lead Westwood.
The Patriots also lost lineman Hayden Mann with a broken arm, Syrjala said.
Gladstone finished with 208 total yards. Hanson led the way with 73 yards on eight carries, while Johnson had 40 yards on 16 carries. Johnson completed 5-of-8 passes for 78 yards.
In honor of veterans, Gladstone players wore Camo Jerseys, which were auctioned off. All proceeds went to the the U.P. Honor Flight.
“It means a lot to us,” Hanson said. “We just put up good numbers against a good team. We will continue to keep rolling all season.”
Westwood 0 6 0 6 — 12
Gladstone 0 13 7 0 — 20
G — Stenson 24 pass from Johnson, Charlebois PAT kick, 4:04
G — Husbye 43 pass from Johnson, PAT kick failed, 1:12
W — Beckman 1 run, PAT pass failed, 22.6
G — Hanson 39 run, Charlebois PAT kick, 2.5
W — Dellangelo 10 run, PAT pass failed, 7:30