SEASIDE — As they like to say in Seaside, “it’s a great day to be a Gull!”
And Friday was even better than the best days for the Seaside football program — great football weather, first home league game of the season, a halftime Hall of Fame ceremony … and to cap off a perfect day, the Gulls scored a 40-0 win over Astoria at Broadway Field.
“This is definitely up there,” said Seaside junior quarterback Payton Westerholm, who threw for 141 yards and three touchdowns in the first half alone. “I’ll definitely remember this one for years to come. The rest of my life.”
Meanwhile, the game was a forgettable, painful one for Astoria. The last time the Fishermen suffered a loss that bad in the Clatsop Clash was 1985 (42-0).
Seaside’s win over Astoria was not totally unexpected; it was how the Gulls achieved the victory that provided the Shocker of the Night in Oregon 4A football.
The Gulls were dominant on both sides of the ball against the defending league champion Fishermen, who were ranked seventh in the latest state media poll.
Seaside rolled up 411 yards in total offense, while the Gulls’ defense limited Astoria to just 12 yards rushing in the first half, 65 yards for the game (most of it on Astoria’s final drive).
And for one night only, the “Seaside Turnaround” was at the east end of Broadway instead of the west.
The Gulls were on the losing end of a 50-12 score in last year’s Clash, and lost 36-3 the year before that. Needless to say, Friday’s 78-point turnaround was unexpected. At least for the fans.
For the players, “we had a good game plan on what they were going to do offensively, and we knew they were going to struggle against our defense,” said Westerholm, who did not want to experience another blowout loss to the Fishermen. “The last two years didn’t sit well with us, and we just wanted to make a change.”
It turned out to be a nightmare of a game for the Fishermen, who had injured players walking or being helped off the field for much of the night.
With 1:35 left in the first quarter and the Gulls already leading 7-0 on a Westerholm TD pass to Dawson Blanchard, Astoria quarterback Tristin Wallace was hit near midfield following a scramble and had to be helped to the sideline.
With Karsten Johnson in for Wallace, Seaside stopped the Fishermen on a fourth down pass, and the Gulls needed just one play to score, a quick 56-yard strike from Westerholm to Brayden Johnson.
Wallace was right back on the field on Astoria’s next offensive series, even hooking up with Trey Hageman on a shovel pass that gained 54 yards to the Seaside 26.
The Fishermen lost five yards on the next play, which was followed by an incomplete pass from Wallace, who went down a second time with an injury (possible torn meniscus) to the same leg and did not return.
After five straight scoreless possessions to start the second quarter, the Gulls (with 1:11 left in the first half) put together an eight-play, 70-yard drive directed by Westerholm, who connected with Alex Teubner for gains of 14 and 13 yards to the Astoria 10-yard line.
And with six seconds on the clock, Westerholm found Johnson on a short crossing route at the goal line for a touchdown.
With a 21-0 lead at the break, “we were right where we wanted to be,” Westerholm said.
“I think what really got us going was the long throw from me to Brayden,” he added. “We knew we were on the verge of ending the game when we went on that last drive of the first half. To get that last touchdown with Brayden making a great catch, it started breaking their spirit going into the second half.”
The Gulls turned back to their run game for the final 24 minutes, and Teubner (who had 64 yards rushing in the first half) added 91 to his total and scored on runs of 1, 5 and 16 yards to help Seaside pull away. He finished with 155 yards on 23 carries, while the Gulls had 259 rushing yards total.
Westerholm was 10-for-15 passing for 152 yards, with completions to six different receivers.
The Gulls do not usually look to throw that often, Westerholm said.
“That wasn’t the plan coming in, but we saw that (the Fishermen) were giving us some open holes on some of the routes, so we decided to start airing it out,” he said. “And that helped open the run game for us in the second half.”
The Gulls lost two fumbles, but also had interceptions by Duncan Thompson and Johnson on defense.
Ryan Stutznegger was Astoria’s leading ground-gainer, rushing for 37 yards on four carries, all on the final drive.
Wallace, Johnson and Ryan Stenblom combined for 188 yards passing for the Fishermen, who host Tillamook Friday, while Seaside hosts Valley Catholic.
At 1-1, the Gulls are in the driver’s seat for the No. 2 state playoff spot out of the Cowapa League. Seaside hosts Banks the final week.
Friday’s victory “gives us confidence,” Westerholm said. “We’re looking to get the next three wins, and get that home playoff game.”