COOS BAY — Gladstone running back Sebastian Peiffer came back to praising his offensive line three different times during a postgame interview after the Gladiators beat Marshfield 36-25 on Friday night at Pete Susick Stadium.
Never mind that the bruising fullback ran for 313 yards and three touchdowns, he wanted to pass the credit around.
“I was just running my hardest and I couldn’t do it without my line,” said Peiffer, who did a lot of the work himself once he got through a seam created by the guys up front or by dragging tacklers along the way.
As good as his offense was, Peiffer was thrilled to talk about the Gladstone defense that shut Marshfield out in the second half after the Pirates used a spurt in the second quarter to take a 25-15 lead to the locker room.
“We talked (at halftime) about how we needed to get better and play for our team,” Peiffer said. “We just played as a team (in the second half) and focused on what we needed to do.”
The Gladiators held Marshfield to just 20 offensive plays the final two quarters and Marshfield had just one first down in the second half until a last-ditch drive after Peiffer’s third score put Gladstone up by 11 points late.
On that last drive, Marshfield quarterback Dom Montiel completed five of his first six passes for 62 yards with the clock running down. But Gladstone ended the Pirates’ hopes with back-to-back sacks by Jude Ashpole and Mateo Burgos to end the threat and clinch the victory.
For the Pirates, the game generally was a big improvement over last week’s loss to rival North Bend, though Marshfield coach John Lemmons still pointed to mistakes by his team.
“We played better, but we still made too many mistakes,” Lemmons said. “You just can’t (do that) against a good team.”
He pointed to a few dropped passes, missed routes by receivers or penalties, including one for aiding a runner on a fourth-and-one play that led to the Pirates having to punt when Gladstone had a three-point lead early in the fourth.
The good news, Lemmons said, is “They’re all fixable mistakes.”
“You never like to lose,” he said. “But I feel good about their effort.”
Noah Niblett, who had a big game for the Pirates, agreed.
“We grew a whole lot,” he said. “Our effort was there twice as much as our first game.
“We are definitely getting better. It will pay off eventually.”
Aside from the first two offensive plays by Gladstone, Marshfield’s defense was solid in the first half. Unfortunately for the Pirates, those plays were a 71-yard touchdown run by Mason Scheehean and an 80-yard run by Peiffer after he appeared to be bottled up on the Gladstone sideline.
“I keep on moving my legs,” he said. “I go my hardest every play.”
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Those two touchdowns were sandwiched around Marshfield’s first score, a 38-yard touchdown strike from Niblett to DJ Daugherty on a fake punt.
Niblett also set up Marshfield’s second score, a 28-yard field goal in the second quarter by Arturo Ledesma, by connecting with Pierce Davidson on a 55-yard halfback pass.
And when he wasn’t passing, Niblett was pulling in seven of Montiel’s passes for 63 yards.
Montiel started and finished strong. He connected on five of his first six passes, but then didn’t do much until the last drive, and finished 13-for-28 for 128 yards. Again, some of the passes that were incomplete were drops.
Marshfield’s defense stiffened after Gladstone’s first two scores, forcing four turnovers the rest of the first half — fumble recoveries by Joey Ward and Daugherty and later interceptions by Niblett and Daugherty.
The Pirates went in front after Daugherty’s fumble recovery, which put them at Gladstone’s 22. Josiah Niblett gained all the yards on the ground, the final 3 on a second effort to get across the goal line. And Montiel connected with Ezra Waterman for the two-point conversion and an 18-15 lead. One play after Noah Niblett’s interception, Josiah scored again, from 12 yards out.
But that was Marshfield’s final score.
And while Josiah Niblett rushed for 57 yards on 17 carries, every other carry by the Pirates went for a loss and Marshfield finished with just 18 total yards on the ground.
Meanwhile, Peiffer galloped 64 yards on the second play of the third quarter (Ward chased him down from behind to deny a touchdown) and later scored on a 2-yard run.
The Gladiators blocked a punt on Marshfield’s ensuing possession, but missed a field goal.
But that was their last missed opportunity. Scheehean finished the next drive with a 7-yard run and then the Gladiators kept their next drive alive on a screen pass from Hudson Meyer to Peiffer that got 14 yards when they needed 13, setting up Peiffer’s final score with 2:41 to go in the game.
Marshfield and Gladstone both made the Class 4A semifinals last year and Marshfield hopes to start building toward another playoff run as the schedule, at least in theory, gets easier with a trip to 0-2 Klamath Union next week.
“It’s a pretty tough first two games,” Lemmons said.
Noah Niblett said the Pirates will get back to work Monday and hope for another good week of practice.
“We’ve just got to keep doing what we’re doing,” he said. “We stepped it up in practice and played a lot better in the game.
“It all starts in practice.”