Field position dooms Bulldogs vs. Hayden
In a close game with Class 4A powerhouse Topeka Hayden, field position and turnovers proved to be too much to overcome even another round of big plays from the Baldwin High School Bulldogs. BHS fell 28-14 Friday in district play.
But, the score is deceiving. It was 21-14 and BHS had its chances until Hayden intercepted a pass and returned it eight yards for a touchdown with just 12 seconds left. Whatever hopes the Bulldogs had until then vanished.
"We gave ourselves a chance to win it a couple of times in the fourth quarter. As a coach, that's all you can ask is to have a chance at the end," said coach Mike Berg. "Our field position hurt us. We were real concerned because they had blocked several punts. We blocked well, but we didn't get the ball down the field very far."
Field position counted from the first, too. BHS was dug in deep, but popped a big play to take the early lead. Junior quarterback Jason Kesinger found junior wide receiver past the Hayden defense and hit him for an 80-yard touchdown with 5:17 left in the first quarter. Senior Justin Goff kicked the extra point and BHS was up 7-0.
Hayden erased that just into the second quarter after again gaining a big field-position advantage. The Wildcats only had to drive 43 yards to tie it up. They did it with just six plays and their standout quarterback, Jarod Tetuan, scampered in from four yards out to knot the game.
The Wildcats took the lead for good on a similar scenario on their next possession. Needing to drive only 51 yards this time, Hayden did it in just four plays. Tetuan did most of the damage again and scored the go-ahead touchdown on a 14-yard run.
The half ended with Hayden up 14-7. BHS made adjustments at halftime to slow Tetuan down. He had 111 yards at halftime. It worked as Tetuan would only gain 23 more yards, but that shifted the Hayden offense to the dive which the Wildcats used to score another touchdown to open the second half for a 21-7 lead.
Ultimately, that was all the Wildcats would need. But, the Bulldogs didn't go gently into the night. The defense stiffened with the new alignment and took Tetuan out of the flow.
"I thought our defense played some real good football in the second half," said Berg.
The offense switched gears to the big play after it was obvious Hayden planned to take standout tailback Micah Mason out of the BHS game plan. The Wildcats held Mason to just 22 yards on 15 carries.
So, BHS went back to the air. Kesinger hit Hannon with 17- and 36-yard passes to move the Bulldogs down the field. Senior fullback Brian Lauridsen then took a hand-off and dashed 27 yards for the touchdown that brought BHS within seven at 21-14 with 1:31 left in the third quarter.
Just into the fourth quarter, BHS came up with a turnover when Lauridsen jumped on a Tetuan fumble at the 40-yard line with 11:02 remaining. The thrilled BHS fans didn't have long to celebrate as on the next play the Bulldogs suffered the first of four interceptions.
BHS's defense wouldn't let Hayden take advantage of the first two and stuffed the Wildcats on a fourth-and-two. BHS then went to its bag of tricks and Hannon threw the pass this time, with junior wingback Brian Turk making an amazing catch coming back for the ball while on the ground. BHS was within striking distance again. But, three incompletions ended that threat at the 2:42 mark.
Bulldog defenders again answered, holding Hayden and forcing a punt. With 53 seconds left and 90 yards to go for the tying touchdown, it didn't look good for BHS. Then the interception return for a touchdown occurred and it was all over.
"Offensively, we couldn't move the ball much," said Berg. "I thought Andy play a great game and caught some big passes. I thought Jason threw the ball well early.
"Hayden controlled the line of scrimmage both ways," he said. "We've got to do better staying on our blocks and getting off blocks."
Hannon ended up with 133 yards on three catches. He also had the 23 yard pass. That was the lion's share of BHS's total yardage of 204. Kesinger wound up six of 14 for 135 yards and the four picks.
The loss dropped BHS's record to 5-3 on the season, but didn't end dreams of the playoffs. The Bulldogs can secure a spot in the playoffs for the first time since 1993 with a win over Perry-Lecompton on Halloween Thursday.
"We are still alive. We have our own destiny in our hand. We are in charge," said Berg. "We don't have to count on anyone beating someone else. We just need to take care of business."
This year the district format has been changed to allow two teams to advance to the playoffs instead of the usual one. That means if Hayden beats Santa Fe Trail and BHS beats Perry, Hayden and Baldwin will advance. If SFT beats Hayden and BHS beats Perry, there would be three teams with 2-1 records. It would then come down to a point system to determine who advances. If that doesn't work, two teams will be drawn from a hat.
But, BHS has to beat Perry to make any of that happen. The Kaws are 4-4 on the year, but 0-2 in district play.
"They are big and power it at you," he said. "They run the power-I and have a back who has 1,000 yards running behind their big line. They've given people fits."
On defense, the Kaws run a 5-2 mostly, but also use some six-man front. Another factor could be the nasty weather predicted for the game at Perry at 7 p.m. Thursday.
"It's going to be cold. It's supposed to be 33 and very windy," said Berg. "I think that plays in our favor being a ground team."
BHS won't be going away from the ground game that's carried the Bulldogs this far.
"I think it's too late in the year to make big changes," he said. "We're going to have to be better at taking advantage of what the defense gives us."
Directions to Perry are simple. Take U.S. 56 west to U.S. 59 north to K-10 west and U.S. 24 west, which goes through Lecompton to Perry.