BHS pounds Louisburg in playoff game
In a post-Halloween game that was full of oddities, Baldwin High school exacted revenge from the Louisburg Wildcats for the Bulldogs' only loss of the season in the first round of the state playoffs Tuesday night.
BHS rolled to a 21-0 halftime lead and held on for a 28-6 victory in the Class 4A Bi-district game at Liston Stadium. But the win came on just one end of the field. A bank of lights on the west side of the stadium went out, so most of the play was confined to the east end.
"That was the official's idea and I said go for it," coach Mike Berg said of the decision to keep the teams on the east side of the field where the lights were bright. "They had done that once at Olathe before. I think it made it fair for both teams."
But, it was weird.
"That's for sure," said Berg.
The decision came into play on the first play of the game, which also played into the oddities. BHS had the ball at the 17-yard line on the lighted end of the field. Junior quarterback Jeremy Wright started the game with a quarterback sneak and 66 yards later, was on the 17 yard-line of the dark end of the field.
"We knew that was something we didn't run against them before," he said of BHS's lone loss of the season, a 13-12 heartbreaker to Louisburg early in the season. "They have a small linebacker and we were going to do it. I thought, shoot, who's going to expect that on the first play. It was a great way to start the game, except he got hurt."
Yes, another oddity. Wright suffered an ankle injury on the play and didn't return. Adding to the confusion, when the officials picked the ball up and moved it back to the lighted end, Bulldog fans booed and Wildcat fans cheered. Everyone thought the play had been called back because of a penalty.
But, no, that was the way the game would be played. Two plays later, senior tailback Austin Inzer ran for a 13-yard touchdown and BHS would never trail. Senior Emery Baughan added the extra point kick and BHS was up 7-0, with less than two minutes gone in the game.
While the Bulldog faithful stared at Wright on the sidelines, ice packed on the injured ankle, there was joy with the lead, but concern about what would happen from there. But, sophomore back-up Blake Weiden calmed those fears.
Weiden, a 5-foot-11, 160-pounder, who subbed for Wright in a victory over Santa Fe Trail two weeks ago, would throw for the Bulldogs' next three scores. First, he hit senior tight end Earl McNish with a 33-yard scoring strike just into the second quarter. With four minutes left in the half, the same combination clicked for an eight-yard touchdown pass.
Weiden then hit senior Ricky Baker with a conversion pass to give BHS its 21-0 halftime lead. But, the sophomore wasn't done. Just into the fourth quarter, he put the game away for good when he connected with junior Aaron Hannon on a 23-yard touchdown strike. Baughan's kick put the Bulldogs up 28-0 with just under nine minutes left in the game on one side of the field.
"I'm just really proud how we rallied around Blake," said Berg. "Blake played superb. He came in with a lot of pressure on him in his first varsity playoff game and executed our offense perfectly."
Weiden ended the night four of nine for 127 yards and those three touchdowns. BHS supplanted that with 201 yards on the ground. Wright had the biggest chunk of that with his 66-yard run, but Josiah Mason chipped in with 41 yards on 10 carries, Inzer had 37 yards on nine totes and Klay Garrison, limited because of an injured ankle, came through with 28 yards on six carries.
But, there was also a good dose of Bulldog defense. They shut Louisburg down to just 195 total yards and also came up with two big turnovers, one on an interception by Inzer and the other a fumble recovery by senior Kyle Ruona.
"Our defense bent a little bit in the third quarter, but didn't break," Berg said. "They came up with some big plays with the turnovers."
BHS now stands at 9-1 heading to the next round of the playoffs, a Saturday game against Fort Scott, the team that eliminated the Bulldogs last year. Fort Scott hammered Parsons 55-13 Tuesday night.
"I know they're good," he said. "I just don't know if they've played anybody. They're closest game was a 28-13 win over Paola (a team BHS also beat). We'll find out."
Game time at Liston Stadium is 7:30 p.m. Saturday. Maybe the lights will be fixed by then.