Bulldogs best arch-rival Eagles
It will win no beauty pageants, but Baldwin High School's 20-15 victory over arch-rival Wellsville over the weekend does count well for many good reasons.
First, it was a win. Second, it was the third in a row over the Eagles. Third, it gives Baldwin a 16-15 edge in the overall rivalry series. Fourth, the Bulldogs are 2-0 for the first time since 1993.
"It was not a pretty game, either way," said BHS coach Mike Berg. "There was a lot of intensity on both sides, which led to a lot of mental errors. I have to hand it to Wellsville they came and played with a lot of emotion and played hard.
"We did not play with the intensity that I had hoped for," said Berg. "There were times we played great and then on the next play we lost our composure. Bottom line is we won. It's a good sign when you can play as badly as we did and still win."
But, let's start with odd. The game was started Friday night, as scheduled. Baldwin High took the opening kickoff and drove on the ground behind backfield brothers Caleb and Micah Mason, as expected. But then BHS fumbled. Unexpected.
Wellsville then drove on the ground unexpected. Flags flew, which unfortunately became expected as the game progressed. Wellsville fumbled and BHS recovered. It was another theme that would help carry the Bulldogs to victory.
But, it was back to more unexpected happenings. On BHS's first play after the fumble, M. Mason swept to the right. But this time he stopped, planted and threw about a 20-yard pass to wide receiver Andrew Hannon. The 6-foot-0, 155-pound sophomore hauled in the pass, made a cut, broke a tackle and was gone. Hannon galloped into the end zone after 68 yards to give BHS the expected 6-0 lead. Senior place kicker Hans Broers made it 7-0 with the kick with 7:24 left in the quarter.
From there, it just got ugly. Flags flew, fumbles happened, then Mother Nature got involved. Lightning crackled to the south as the quarter came to an end. The officials decided to stop the game there and see what happened. Good thinking. The packed crowd and players at Liston Stadium headed to the exits. About five minutes later, the thunderstorm hit. The wind hit with a wooosh. Rain followed. So did more lightning. The game was postponed until 4:30 p.m. Saturday. Based on weather predictions, that could almost be called expected in an inexact art.
That sent coaches quickly to the films. It's not often they can review what's happened with a game and make adjustments. But, it happened. Still, when play resumed Saturday, it was more of the same.
"It was an emotional game for the coaches, for the players, for the fans," said Berg. "It was like playing two games. We knew what they were going to do because of the films from the night before, but we couldn't do anything about it."
Play resumed Saturday where it left off Friday. Wellsville drove, unexpectedly, and flags flew and it was time for a goal-line stand for BHS. But, the Eagles fumbled again, with senior Adam Halford recovering this one just into the second quarter.
BHS then put its best drive together, going 97 yards in 14 plays. Most of the yardage was gained on the ground, with M. Mason accounting for the biggest chunk with 57 yards. Inzer and C. Mason also had big runs and Inzer hit tight end Brian Lauridsen with a 17-yard pass to help out. C. Mason scored the touchdown on a 1-yard run, Broers added the kick and BHS was up 14-0 with just 12 seconds left in the half.
The third quarter turned into a flag-filled, defensive struggle with neither team scoring. At the end of the quarter, however, Wellsville started a drive that culminated in a touchdown just into the fourth quarter that narrowed the margin to 14-8.
Baldwin High answered immediately after successfully recovering an onside kick by the Eagles. The Bulldogs used nine plays to move 53 yards, including a gutsy fourth-and-three conversion. Again it was the Mason brothers on the ground, with a good dose of Inzer that made the difference. Inzer ran a quarterback keeper around the right end, broke several tackles and ran 33 yards for the touchdown that proved to be the difference with 7:48 left in the game.
"The fourth down conversion was a really big play," said Berg. "Micah got it. Inzer's touchdown was a big play, too. He broke three tackles."
The BHS faithful breathed a little easier after that, but not for long. The Eagles went to the airways and started moving. But, senior cornerback Tyler Trowbridge stepped in front of a pass and intercepted at the 6:35 mark.
A rash of penalties kept the Bulldogs from converting and forced a punt. Wellsville again drove, this time inside the 10-yard line before coughing up their sixth turnover of the game when senior defensive end Brett Myrick recovered a Leecy fumble.
That sigh of relief lasted even less. On the next play, a botched snap between center and quarterback put the ball on the ground and Wellsville recovered at the five-yard line. Wellsville converted one play later to pull within the final 20-15 margin with 2:50 left.
The Eagles again tried an onside kick, but junior Justin Goff hopped on it for BHS. Despite one last rash of penalties, the Bulldogs were able to pick up a first down which sealed the win.
"The onside kick was a really big play," said Berg.
Also coming up big in key situations was the defense with turnovers and goal-line stands. The fumbles not noted before were recovered by the Turk brothers, two by senior Adam and one by sophomore Brian. The defense was able to hold Wellsville to 177 total yards, the second week in a row where the Bulldogs held an opponent under 200.
"I'm really proud of our defense," said Berg. "They were put in some bad situations and really came through. Most of the fumbles were forced. Our defense had some goal line stands and did some very nice things for the second week in a row."
He was very concerned about the penalties, however, as the Bulldogs were flagged 19 times for 142 yards. Several of those were costly personal foul and unsportsmanlike conduct penalties.
"We've got a lot to work on, but our kids never quit," Berg said. "We've got to keep our composure. It's an emotional game, but you've got to keep your head.
"I was really proud of the effort through adversity," he said. "It was a big, big win. We had to have it."
Next up is a 7 p.m. Friday road game against Gardner, which is also 2-0. The game will be played at the new football stadium near the new high school on the west edge of town.
"They beat Osawatomie and Prairie View pretty handily," he said. "They have a lot of team speed. They have pretty much the same team from last year. They're going to be multiple fronts on defense, with five- and four-man fronts. They're going to match up with us pretty well they're fast with big linemen.
"It's going to be a barn burner like last year," he said.
BHS won a year ago by a 32-29.