Homecoming not so happy as BHS falls to Lousiburg
Mental mistakes and plenty of them doomed the Baldwin High School Bulldogs to a 20-13 homecoming loss to the Louisburg Wildcats Friday night.
Special teams failures, a season-high 10 penalties, numerous missed assignments and some-times poor tackling did BHS in. The Bulldogs hadn't been flagged for more than four penalties in any game this season, but that came to an end Friday with 96 yards in losses and more importantly drive-stopping calls.
"It's hard to beat a team like Louisburg when you have that many penalties," said coach Mike Berg. "They were momentum crushers. Our punt coverage didn't get the job done, either. We gave up way too many yards."
Unfortunately, it followed a trend for BHS. After looking all-world in the opening-game annihilation of Anderson County, the Bulldogs started a three-game sputter that they survived with a big win over Paola despite seven fumbles, but came crashed with two straight losses, one to Gardner and then Louisburg.
"It's been three weeks in a row," said Berg. "Against Paola, it was the fumbles, but the last two games it's been penalties."
But, what BHS hopes to do is learn from those mistakes and start turning around the 2-2 season.
"This week we're just going to correct our mistakes," he said. "We're going to be more disciplined. We're going to work on when we do make a mistake we need to forget about it and go to the next play. We were frustrated by it Friday. You can't dwell on it.
"I don't think they were more talented, I just think at critical times in the game we lost our heads," said Berg.
It didn't start out that way. For the third week in a row, junior standout Micah Mason scored the first time he touched the ball. The previous two weeks that's been on the first play from scrimmage, but Friday's triple had a different twist. The Bulldogs ran their "option reverse" kickoff return to perfection with the opening kickoff and Mason scooted 86 yards for a touchdown. Louisburg would never kick deep again, instead squib kicking after ever score from there.
Still, BHS was up 6-0. The Bulldogs stuffed Louisburg on its first possession and then when on a drive kicked started by a 32-yard run by Mason and a 23-yard gallop by senior Brian Lauridsen. BHS moved to the five-yard line before the first flag of the night stalled the drive in its tracks. A missed field goal left the score at 6-0.
Just into the second quarter, BHS got burned on special teams. Louisburg's Brad Marks took a punt and broke free for a 45-yard touchdown scamper. The Wildcats added the extra point and were up 7-6. On the next series, BHS punted again and Marks again returned it 48 yards, but this time the Wildcats were flagged and the play was called back.
Penalties helped Louisburg on its next drive which looked to close out the first half with a 25-yard field goal that gave the Wildcats a 10-6 lead. However, BHS wasn't through.
Junior quarterback Jason Kesinger used the pass to move the Bulldogs 67 yards in just six plays. Kesinger hit Lauridsen with a 28-yard scoring strike as the clock ran out. Caleb Thomas added the kick and the Bulldogs were up 13-10 going into the halftime homecoming festivities where seniors Ryne Jackson and Anna Skaggs were crowned King and Queen.
There were some more festivities left on the field for the second half, but for the most part they didn't go BHS's way. Louisburg took the second-half kickoff and drove 65 yards in 14 plays. However, the Wildcats were 66 yards away from the end zone when the drive started. BHS put together a goal-line stand to be proud of. Louisburg reached the two-yard line on a 30-yard pass on a fourth down. Just two yards away from taking the lead, the Wildcats couldn't get to paydirt. Four runs netted one yard and BHS took over on downs.
BHS started a drive of its own, only to see three consecutive penalties stall it out. The Bulldogs punted and then helped Louisburg score the go-ahead points with a pair of personal foul penalties. This time on the one-yard line, Louisburg punched it in to take the lead for good at 17-13 with just 30 seconds left in the third quarter.
Just into the final frame, Louisburg picked off a BHS pass and drove to the four-yard line, again aided by a BHS personal foul. The Bulldogs threw together another goal-line stand and the Wildcats settled for a 25-yard field goal that put the final 20-13 count on the Liston Stadium scoreboard.
Berg was extremely pleased with the goal-line stands, but would like to see that extended elsewhere on the field.
"We've got to find that intensity in the middle of the field, too," he said. "The kids never gave up at the goal line, but we've got to do that the entire game."
After the field goal, BHS had one more chance. The Bulldogs drove to the 19-yard line, but couldn't get it in, thanks in part to a pair of penalties. With fourth-and 25, BHS saw its last chance flutter away on an incomplete pass. Berg said the same thing applied to his offense when it gets into the red zone.
"I'd like to see our offense get that intensity at the goal line, too, and punch it in," he said.
But now, it's time to forget the last two losses and concentrate on the next opponent, Spring Hill, which is an away game Friday.
"We need to eliminate some mistakes and we'll have an easier time," said Berg. "That's what we practice. We've got a lot of improving to do between now and districts.
"On film, we really didn't get beat in the trenches," he said of Friday's loss. "A lot of it was blown assignments. We put in some new blocking schemes this week and we just forgot what we were supposed to do.
"That happened on defense, too. It's mental. We have to remember our assignments. It was mental errors," he said.
Spring Hill will counter BHS's 2-2 record with an 0-4 slate. The Broncos were beaten 56-14 by Gardner last week, but Berg isn't looking past them, especially in light of the Broncos' win over Baldwin High to close out the season a year ago.
"They are a very well coached team with a lot of new faces. They have a lot of young kids and have had some injuries," said Berg. "They play hard and we look forward to playing them after what happened last year. They run an option and look like Louisburg on offense. They're not throwing as much as they were a year ago. On defense they use a 4-4, but it looks like a six-man front.
"We're going to worry about Baldwin and what we can do to improve," he said. "We're going to get back to basics and try to build some momentum."