Early miscues lead to Bulldog defeat
A slow offensive start and two turnovers helped the Baldwin High School football team fall behind early as the Bulldogs lost to Louisburg 40-13 Friday night at Liston Stadium.
Baldwin trailed 28-0 early in the second half, but played the Wildcats even for the remainder of the game as each team scored two touchdowns each.
"We got down a little bit and came back in the second half and played them even," coach Mike Berg said. "When we put a full game together, we are going to be a hard team to beat."
Berg was proud of how hard his team played in the second half, especially after it had won its two previous games.
"I am just proud of our guys again for playing the whole game hard," Berg said. "That's what they did. We learned a lot from that team (Louisburg), because they are so good. We are able to judge where we have come from the last couple of weeks. Those were two big wins for us and we showed improvement in those games."
Baldwin held Louisburg on a fourth-down attempt on the Wildcats' first drive, but then the Bulldogs punted. Four plays later, Louisburg scored on a 31-yard run to take a 7-0 lead.
On the ensuing Bulldog possession, a fumble by sophomore Sam Beecher gave the Wildcats the ball at the BHS 14-yard line. The Wildcats scored two plays later, taking a quick 14-0 lead.
"We made mistakes," Berg said. "We held them on their first drive and then our offense sputtered. Then they score and we are not out of the game when its 7-0. But then we fumble and its 14-0."
Early in the second quarter, senior Blake Wieden was intercepted near midfield. Louisburg drove down the field and scored again to lead 21-0.
BHS junior Kyle Smith knew it was mistakes that hurt the Bulldogs early in the contest.
"We had a lot of mistakes," Smith said. "Guys on defense weren't doing their assignments. We are really working on fixing those."
Smith intercepted a Wildcat pass late in the half but the Bulldogs were unable to score any points before heading into halftime down 21-0.
Louisburg scored another touchdown on its first possession of the second half with a 42-yard run. The lead was then 28-0.
Baldwin answered with a 16-play drive that covered 80 yards. It was finished with a one-yard quarterback sneak by Wieden for a touchdown. The drive took 6:21 off the clock.
But the Wildcats had a quick reply to that with a 65-yard touchdown run to take a 34-7 lead.
Baldwin forced Louisburg to punt on its next possession. Smith returned the punt 60 yards for a touchdown, bringing the score to 34-13.
"It was really cool," Smith said. "We had good blocking. I just wanted to show Louisburg that we weren't going to give up."
The Wildcats scored one more time late in the game to win 40-13.
Berg said it was a good time to play Louisburg, because now the Bulldogs can fix their mistakes before district play begins next week.
"It was an opportune time to play them, because right before districts we are going to fix our mistakes," Berg said. "Everybody is making mistakes right now and a great team is going to exploit those.
"We found out we are not getting off our blocks," Berg said. "We are getting in our gaps and trying to make the tackle while the guy is still on us. We've got to shed our blocks better, so that we can tackle with two arms."
Wieden also said that mental mistakes are hurting the team so far.
"We are mainly trying to work on fixing a lot of mental mistakes," Wieden said. "That's what's killing us right now. We can physically play with them, but we are just hurting ourselves with mental mistakes. If we fix those, we will be all right."
The Bulldogs have been preparing for Osawatomie (1-4) all week. They have been practicing hard and working on getting in better shape, thanks to the warm weather.
"We are getting ourselves back in shape," Berg said. "I think we've got some guys that are in that mid-season lull where we have been working on technique so much that we are not in shape again. The weather is great and we are treating it like two-a-days. We are doing a lot of high intensity drills. I want practice to be harder than the game Friday night."
Baldwin practiced hard on Tuesday, according to Berg.
"We worked their tails off today," Berg said. "We want to improve those quick-twitch muscle fibers, run our feet and use our hands more. We are leaning on people. But, we are getting better."
The Bulldogs haven't changed anything this week, because they know that their mistakes can be fixed in practice.
"We are going back to techniques and fundamentals," Berg said. "I learned from a great coach in college that when things are going good, don't put in more Xs and Os, because you've got to look at yourself and fix your mistakes."
The Bulldogs and Trojans kick off at 7 p.m. Friday in Osawatomie.