Bulldogs advance to next round with easy win
After lighting up the scoreboard with 49 points midway through the second quarter of the Class 4A state playoff game, the Baldwin High School team rested its starters during most of Tuesday night's 49-28 win over Prairie View at Liston Stadium.
"I thought our kids just came out like gangbusters and played hard," coach Mike Berg said. "We only had a couple days to prepare for Prairie View. We knew what they were doing, but I knew they would come up here and play hard, too. We had to play hard and get the ball game over quickly."
With the win, the Bulldogs advance to play Chanute at 7 p.m. Saturday in the second round of the playoffs at Liston Stadium. Chanute beat Labette County 35-14 Tuesday.
"We're excited that we get to play on the sandlot," Berg said.
Junior Aaron Mills said the team expected a little bit closer game, but the pieces came together for Baldwin.
"We came in looking for a hard game, considering it is the playoffs," Mills said. "Everything just fell into place."
Several of the Bulldogs' starters were able to rest the entire second half, allowing many younger players to get a chance.
"I thought it was pretty cool for those guys to get out there," Mills said. "It was pretty fun to watch them play."
Berg said the rest will help the team come Saturday.
"I think that will help us," Berg said. "It was important to get them off of the field."
They were able to rest after the Bulldogs put up 49 points in the first 16 minutes of the game.
Baldwin was forced to punt after its first possession, because of three incompletions. But then it scored touchdowns the next seven times it touched the ball.
For the first touchdown, Mills scampered in from six yards out. Then Mills recovered a Buffalo fumble, which led to a touchdown pass from junior Blake Wieden, starting in place of injured starter Jeremy Wright, to senior Aaron Hannon.
"It felt really good," Wieden said. "We played very well tonight."
After a Prairie View punt, senior Klay Garrison finished off a four-play, 54-yard drive with a five-yard touchdown run to give Baldwin a 20-0 lead.
Baldwin added one more score before the first quarter ended. Hannon returned a punt 70 yards and Wieden found senior John Brown for the two-point conversion to give Baldwin a 28-0 lead.
Senior Josiah Mason then intercepted a Prairie View pass and ran it back to the Buffalo 21-yard line. Brown scampered in for a 17-yard touchdown two plays later.
Prairie View then added its own touchdown on a 57-yard run. But Mills answered with an 81-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.
Mills said he and Hannon love competing for special teams touchdowns.
"Aaron and I have fun and we have a lot of fun together," Mills said. "We talk to each other all the time about who is going to get one. Our team contributes a lot on those returns."
Garrison later scored on a 16-yard run with 8:23 left in the first half. Neither team scored in the rest of the quarter as Baldwin led 49-6 at halftime.
"We played pretty flawless in the first half," Wieden said. "Everybody did their assignments and the line blocked to perfection. Both sides of the ball played awesome in the first half."
Mills said the defense really answered the call Tuesday.
"They didn't get past the defensive line," Mills said. "The line kicked their butts all night."
Berg was happy to see the special teams play so well, along with the entire team.
"Our special teams just played awesome tonight," Berg said. "Blake at quarterback was superb. Our offensive line blocked well. It was just a total team effort."
Kickoff for Saturday's game is a 7 p.m. at Liston Stadium against Chanute. Both teams are 9-1. Prairie View ended its season at 3-7.