Bulldogs pound Piper to advance in state playoffs
By Jeff Myrick
Baldwin City Signal Editor
With a decisive 41-20 victory over Kansas City-Piper Saturday night at Liston Stadium in the Class 4A Regional playoff game, the Baldwin High School Bulldogs took a step that hadn't been taken since 1988.
"This is huge," said coach Mike Berg. "This is what the kids have been working hard for. This is the first time since 1988 that we've gone this far. That year, we played in the state championship game."
Although the Bulldogs came away with the convincing 21-p oint win, it took a kickoff-return touchdown just before halftime and a strong second-half performance to put Piper away. BHS took the opening kickoff and had a 72-yard touchdown run by Micah Mason on the first play from scrimmage. But, it got called back on a penalty. The Bulldogs then drove 60 yards easily, but fumbled.
The defense held and just like the Mason run, BHS fans got a quick look at what was to come when Andrew Hannon returned the punt 48 yards to set the Bulldogs up again. This time they dr ove it in the end zone and Mason got the score on a one-yard run midway through he first quarter.
It looked like it was going to be easy. But, it wasn't. Piper answered with a drive of its own, mixing the pass and the run to drive 64 yards in 17 plays to tie it at 7-7 just into the second quarter.
After an exchange of punts, BHS scored again, this time on a pass from sophomore quarterback to Hannon that covered 39 yards to put BHS up 14-7. Again, Piper answered to knot it at 14-14 with just 41 seconds l eft in the half.
Enter Hannon again. Mason caught the kickoff, handed to B.T. Turk, who then handed off to Hannon. About 88 yards later, Hannon was in the end zone for a 21-14 halftime lead. BHS made defensive adjustments at the intermission that made the difference in keeping Piper quarterback Scott Lipovac in check.
"Their offense is so good at keeping you off balance," Berg said of Piper. "Once the kids figured it out and kept the quarterback in the pocket and contained, we were okay.
"Once we didn't get the deep penetration and kept the quarterback in the pocket is when we got our sacks," he said.
That was the big difference in the second half. Lipovac was hurried into numerous incompletions and was also sacked eight times.
That gave the ball bac k to the BHS offense and it was Mason time again. The 6-0, 220-pound senior ran for 167 yards in the second half, including touchdown runs of 56 and 45 yards. Another 21-yard run by Mason set up senior Kyle Flory's one-yard plunge for the other BHS touchd own in the second half.
Mason ended up with 236 yards on 23 carries for the game, his second-straight 200-plus-yard performance in the playoffs. He had 264 yards against Eudora in the first round. That brings his season totals to 224 carries, 1,868 yards and 25 touchdowns. That's 8.3 yards per carry.
Just as important was the performance turned in by Hannon, another senior. Besides his kick returning yards and touchdown, he caught four passes for 101 yards and the one score. Wright was five of 10 for 11 4 yards and the touchdown.
"I think our passing game was outstanding Saturday," said Berg. "The play action to the tight end and a couple of deep balls to Andy really kept the offense balanced."
The victory moved BHS's record to 9-2 on the season, while Piper ended with the same mark. Next up for the Bulldogs is Fort Scott at 7 p.m. Friday on the road. Fort Scott has a 10-1 record.?
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