Bulldogs use turnovers to beat rival 34-6
WELLSVILLE -- Three interceptions, two botched punts and one fumble recovery helped the Baldwin High School football team defeat rival Wellsville 34-6 Friday night.
The Bulldogs traveled to Wellsville looking to bounce back from its tough loss to Paola a week before. They did exactly that, as they scored early and often to help make their record 2-1.
"We were pretty excited," senior John Brown said. "Coming off the loss to Paola we were ready to get a victory. It's always nice to win against a big rival like Wellsville. We were happy to come out and play well."
The Bulldogs defense came up huge Friday as it intercepted the Eagles quarterback three times and recovered a fumbled snap at the Wellsville two-yard line.
"Our defense came to play tonight," coach Mike Berg said. "When we get four turnovers and great field position, we are going to win a lot of ball games."
Brown said the team's defense is supposed to create turnovers and this week it finally did its job.
"Our defense is made to get a bunch of turnovers and it was the first game we really succeeded in that," Brown said. "We are going to try and keep that going for the rest of the year. It's a lot more exciting when the defense can help the offense."
Baldwin started the game with two runs that totaled three yards. Then Brown busted a 64-yard touchdown run around the outside and down the Wellsville sideline.
"We struggled our first couple of plays, but I just got lucky to get that opportunity," Brown said. "My line and my backs did a great job of letting me get to the edge. The speed I had carried me to the outside."
Senior Jeremy Wright said the touchdown hurt their opponent's confidence, while it boosted the Bulldogs'.
"We kind of took the wind out of Wellsville's sails with that play," Wright said. "It was a confidence booster for us."
The Bulldogs held the Eagles on their next two possessions. On the Eagles first drive, Baldwin blocked their punt. Then the Bulldogs were the recipients of a fumbled snap by the Eagles on their second punt.
Senior Josiah Mason scored on a two-yard touchdown run the very next play, giving Baldwin a 14-0 lead only 5:47 into the game.
"If we get up early at someone else's home field, then it gives us some momentum," Berg said. "I told our kids we had to get up early and I think they did that."
Wellsville then scored its only touchdown early in the second quarter on a screen pass that went for 66 yards.
"It was unfortunate, because we had our linebacker on a blitz," Wright said of the touchdown. "We also had a couple missed tackles. We were hoping for a shutout."
Baldwin answered with a 12-play, 66-yard drive that ended with an eight-yard touchdown pass from Wright to senior Aaron Hannon.
Mason then intercepted Wellsville and ran to the Eagle 30-yard line. Two plays later senior Klay Garrison rumbled in for a 15-yard touchdown run to give the Bulldogs a 28-6 lead.
The Bulldogs recovered a fumble and intercepted Wellsville on its next two possessions, but were unable to score any more before halftime.
"We kind of got down in the red zone a couple times and struggled," Wright said. "Putting in those extra two scores and going into halftime with a big lead helped a lot."
Berg said the Bulldogs' gameplan for the second half included keeping possession of the ball while keeping the clock rolling.
"I told the guys we need to come out of the locker room and establish a running game," Berg said. "We need to take care of snaps and no penalties, and we did that."
Baldwin came out and scored its final touchdown on its opening possession of the second half. Brown fumbled the ball into the end zone, but it was recovered by Mason to give Baldwin a 34-6 lead.
Both teams exchanged possessions in the final minutes of the game, but the Bulldogs help on to their 34-6 lead to get the win.
"I thought we did a pretty good job of coming out and finishing the game," Brown said.
The Bulldogs had to endure a wet, sloppy field Friday night, which didn't cause many problems for Baldwin.
"We had a lot of sloppy plays and this is due to the sloppy field," Berg said. "We executed flawlessly some plays and other plays we looked sloppy. We just need to work on being more consistent."
Wright said traction became a problem Friday night.
"It was a mess," Wright said. "The footing was horrible. I felt bad for our line, because it's hard to block like that. It's also hard to get up to full speed on a field like that."
The Bulldogs were able to slow down Wellsville's Austin Bloss, as he ran the ball 18 times for 84 yards.
"He's a great player," Berg said. "We knew we had to stop him and we had to tackle better than we did against Paola."
Brown led Baldwin in rushing with 101 yards on 10 carries. Garrison rushed for 55 yards on 12 carries, while Wright ran six times for 42 yards.
Wright was also three of eight passing for a total of 47 yards with one touchdown.
The Bulldogs next play Louisburg at 7 p.m. Friday at Liston Stadium. The Wildcats handed Baldwin its only regular season loss last year, so the Bulldogs look to avenge that's defeat.
"They are 3-0 and they are the best team we are going to play," Berg said. "That's how we need to look at it. We were 3-0 going into playing them last year and they beat us. We are going to try and return the favor."
Berg said Louisburg is a big team and has some speed it also uses.
"They have some good team speed and they are again really big up front," Berg said. "They aren't as big as they were last year, but they have some big kids up front. They are just fundamentally sound. They try to make you make mistakes and capitalize on them."