COTTAGE GROVE -- Senior quarterback Hayden Vandehey passed for 239 yards and one score and ran for 77 yards and another as top-seeded Banks charged to a 21-0 lead and hung on to defeat Marshfield, 21-14, in a 4A semifinal Saturday evening at Cottage Grove High School.
The Braves, who have never won a state title, will face Seaside, a 23-19 victor over Gladstone, in the championship game. Banks defeated Seaside, 10-7, when they played during the regular season.
Banks was in complete control of this hard-hitting semifinal with Marshfield for the better part of three quarters on Saturday. Two-third quarter touchdowns – a 14-yard scramble to the pylon from Vandehey and Vandehey’s 18-yard scoring aerial to Blake Markham – had extended Banks’ lead from 7-0 at the half to a seemingly insurmountable 21-0 bulge. Banks’ defense, led by defensive back Josiah Ochoa and linebacker Bryson Cook, was so good that Marshfield’s potent offense had managed only 101 yards of offense. The Pirates could not run and attempts to pass were met with pressure on QB Grant Woolsey or batted down in the secondary.
But desperation can motivate a proud team. And Marshfield was prouder than proud, trying to get back to the 4A finals for the second straight year and riding a nine-game winning streak. After Banks scored to make it 21-0, the Pirates completed consecutive passes to Jacob Carpenter, Corey Stover and Tyler Thornton, the last for 19 yards and a touchdown, to get them on the board in a 33-second drive.
The next time Marshfield got the ball, following a missed field goal attempt by Banks, Marshfield went right through the Braves again, this time going 80 yards in 43 seconds, capped by a 34-yard toss from Woolsey to Carpenter. The Pirates had gained 155 yards on the previous six plays and, down 21-14 with 4:58 to play, had gotten back into the game!
Alas, it was not meant to be for Marshfield. The Pirates got the ball twice more but both drives ended in interceptions, one by Cook and the second of the game for Ochoa, who also scored Banks first touchdown on a one-yard plunge. Banks’ final play, a kneel down, never felt so sweet.
“It was all about being there for each other and doing our own jobs,” said Ochoa. “It took every person on this team to do it.”
“We jumped on them,” said Banks head coach Cole Linehan, a former player for the Braves. “They came back so we had to make a play. It came down to our defense, which we knew it would. They’re a helluva football team but so are we.”
Linehan gathered his team about him afterwards and they talked about the journey to get to this moment.
“We said in the locker room, we said in the pow wow, ‘Why not us?’” Linehan shared. “I knew we had it in us to win games like that. We finally get to say it. What’s the goal? Compete for the championship. You guys have bought in, taken it one game at a time. The goal has always been the next game. Now the next game is for the championship.”