BHS ends season with OT loss
After a defensive battle, the Baldwin High School football team's season ended Saturday night when it lost to Chanute 13-7 in overtime at Liston Stadium in the second round of the Class 4A playoffs.
"I am really hurt for the seniors, because they laid it out on the line," coach Mike Berg said. "You couldn't ask for a better effort from a football team. They played hard until the very end, so it hurts that much more."
It was the final game for 14 BHS seniors, who finished the season with a 9-2 record.
"It just hit me there that things were over," senior Jeremy Wright said. "I wasn't disappointed, because I knew we played our heart out. It was just sad to end our football career."
Senior Aaron Hannon said the loss was hard to take, because the team had goals of going further into the playoffs.
"It was really disappointing, because we had been looking forward to the season since the end of last season," Hannon said. "We were really hoping to advance really far in the playoffs."
Berg said he is sad for the seniors, but he also knows they should be proud of the success they had at BHS.
"I'm happy for them too, because not very many teams are going to end their careers with as many wins as the seniors have had," Berg said. "They should be very happy when they look back on three nine-win seasons."
To start the game, the Bulldogs received the ball first and began marching down the field by running the ball, as they had all season. After picking up two first downs, Baldwin punted.
Chanute drove down field 56 yards, using 6:18 of the clock, only to miss a field goal.
Berg said the first quarter was quick, because each team was trying to figure out its opponent.
"I think both teams were feeling each other out," Berg said. "Both teams were running some basic stuff to see what each other would give them. It was just a quick game."
Baldwin's luck ran out quickly, though, as Chanute scored a touchdown on its next possession with a 41-yard run.
Both teams exchanged possessions during the rest of the second quarter, until Baldwin began to drive again late in the half.
The Bulldogs put together a 12-play drive that fell short on the Chanute 6-yard line.
"We had our opportunities to score and we had some miscommunications," Berg said.
Both teams continued to battle through the second half, with neither having a chance at scoring any points until the final few minutes of the game.
Baldwin took the ball with 5:11 left and started marching down the field. The Bulldogs converted two fourth downs, one of which was the game-tying 28-yard pass from Wright to Hannon.
"We converted a couple fourth downs," Berg said. "I wish we would have executed like that the whole game."
Baldwin used a screen pass to Hannon several times during the game, including the touchdown pass.
"We have used that slip screen play a lot this year," Wright said. "I was ecstatic. It was awesome."
Hannon said when he caught the ball, there was plenty of room for him to score.
"It was really exciting when I saw no one was around," Hannon said. "I wanted to get into the end zone as fast as I could."
But the Bulldogs left Chanute with 1:12 on the clock and the ball. The Blue Comets drove down to the Baldwin 1-yard line before using its final timeout. Instead of kicking the game-winning field goal, Chanute opted to run the ball.
Baldwin stuffed the line of scrimmage, forcing the running back outside, where senior Josiah Mason wrapped him up for a loss. The game headed to overtime.
"That was probably the best defensive play I have ever seen," Berg said. "Most high school teams can get one yard, especially when they are on the goal line. Coach (Brad) Qualls put them in a great defense to defend it and they did."
In overtime, Chanute scored a touchdown in two plays, but the extra point was wide right, giving Baldwin hope.
But, three plays later, Wright threw a pass to the end zone that was intercepted, ending the game and the season.
"The play was there, but the guy just made a good play on the ball," Wright said.
Berg said that a team can only ask that it has a chance to win late in a game.
"It was down to one play, and that is all you can ask," Berg said. "Be there to win and it just happens we didn't do this time. We are going to learn from it. But I am proud of how the team played all season. We've got some great memories to look back on."
Berg also thought the game may have been the greatest prep game he has seen.
"It was an excellent game," Berg said. "It was the best high school football game I have ever been involved with," Berg said. "Both teams played hard and both defenses were at top notch. There were big plays on both sides, but it was still a low scoring game, because the defenses stepped up their intensity."
Wright agreed with Berg.
"Since I have been here, that was probably the best game I have played in," Wright said. "It was fun and something we will always remember."
Many of the BHS players will begin practice for basketball or wrestling Monday, which will help them recover from the loss, according to Wright.
"People are starting to kind of move on," Wright said. "It's still in the back of our heads, but we've got to realize it's time to move on and people are getting pretty hyped up about basketball."