Bulldogs beat rival Eudora
After jumping out to a 28-0 lead, the Baldwin High School football team hung on to beat the archrival Eudora Cardinals 35-20 Thursday to win the district crown at Liston Stadium.
"It was the most unbelievable win this year," coach Mike Berg said. "I just thought our kids came out with great intensity and played with a lot of heart. To score that many points against their defense was great."
The Bulldogs defeated the previously unbeaten Cardinals in a battle for the district championship.
"It's always great to be district champs," senior John Brown said. "We knew last week that we were going to be in the playoffs, but getting home-field advantage and the top seed really helps out."
Berg said the Bulldogs didn't need much motivation for the game, because so much was on the line.
"Our seniors led the way," Berg said. "They know what the Eudora game means. We've beat them four of the last five times and these kids know that is a rivalry and we have to be up for it. The coaches didn't have to do much motivating at all."
Beating a rival such as the Cardinals is something senior Jeremy Wright enjoys.
"It always feels good to get a victory against Eudora," Wright said. "Both teams played hard and it feels good to come out on top."
Eudora took its opening drive and marched down the field and looked ready to score. Cardinals' quarterback Kyle Brouhard scored a touchdown on a 42-yard run that was called back on a holding penalty.
Six plays later, Wright intercepted a Brouhard pass as the Bulldogs' five-yard line, and swung the momentum Baldwin's direction.
"I think it kind of gave our team so momentum," Wright said. "We were able to drive down the field and score after that."
Baldwin started its possession at its own 10-yard line and drove 90 yards in 13 plays. Brown scampered in for a four-yard touchdown run. The Bulldogs missed the extra point to take a 6-0 lead.
"In the first half our defense played great," Berg said. "We bent a little bit on that first series. We wanted to give them a long field and make them earn everything they got and we did that in the first half."
Baldwin then held Eudora on its drive, and marched down for a score on its second drive.
Nine plays and 57 yards later, the Bulldogs scored on a two-yard touchdown run by senior Klay Garrison. Wright hooked up with senior Ryan Jorgensen on the two-point conversion to give Baldwin a 14-0 lead.
"We came out really fired up and everyone knew this was a big game," Wright said.
Junior Aaron Mills intercepted a pass on Eudora's next possession, and ran it back to the Eudora 24-yard line.
After a penalty, Wright found Brown for a 24-yard touchdown pass. The Bulldogs led 20-0.
The Cardinals tried making a rally late in the half, but a high snap on fourth down, resulted in a sack and change in possession.
The Bulldogs took the 20-0 lead into halftime.
"We came out with a lot of intensity and we had a lot of goals in our mind," Brown said.
Baldwin tried to put the game out of reach on its first possession of the second half. After a 21-yard kickoff return by junior Aaron Mills, Wright ran around the right side for a 46-yard touchdown. A two-point conversion by Wright made the score 28-0.
Later in the quarter, Eudora started its comeback that would give the Bulldogs a bit of a scare.
"In the second half, our mistakes gave them a short field," said Berg. "It wasn't really our defense making mistakes; our offense didn't get a fourth down and had that botched snap on the punt. It was big momentum for them (Eudora)."
After Baldwin failed to convert a fourth down attempt, the Cardinals took a drive 65 yards in three plays to score. A two-point conversation made the score 28-8.
Then, the Bulldogs were forced to punt after three plays, giving Eudora the ball back. The Cardinals drove 71 yards and Brouhard ran in a seven-yard touchdown, making the score 28-14 with 11:14 left in the game.
On Baldwin's next possession, Wright fumbled while being sacked, giving Eudora the ball on the Bulldogs' 36-yard line.
Five plays later, the Cardinals scored and closed the lead to eight points, 28-20.
Despite the 20-point rally, the Bulldogs answered the call when needed.
"Our kids were getting a little bit riled up and I had to get them calmed down," Berg said. "We told them we needed to sustain a drive, run some clock and we ended up scoring on it. That was really big."
With 6:50 left in the game, Baldwin drove 59 yards and ate up more than three minutes off the clock on a touchdown drive. Wright scampered in from four yards out to score the final touchdown of the game.
"It was definitely a nail-biter," Brown said. "We stayed pretty composed and came out on top."