Late turnovers doom Bulldogs in district opener
Unable to take advantage of nine De Soto turnovers, the Baldwin High School football team threw two interceptions late in their 22-13 loss at home Friday night.
The cold night at Liston Stadium produced lots of turnovers in the Bulldogs' first district game. Baldwin (3-4) couldn't capitalize on the Wildcats (4-3) misfortunes.
"We are just making too many mistakes again," coach Mike Berg said. "We wanted them to make mistakes and our kids made them make mistakes, but we were still making our mistakes, too."
Trailing 14-13 with 2:06 left in the game, BHS sophomore Carson Wood recovered a Wildcat fumble on its own 2-yard line.
On the very next play, senior Blake Wieden threw an interception that was returned 10 yards for a touchdown by De Soto junior Shane Miller. The Wildcats converted the two-point conversion, which all but sealed the game.
"We had our backs against the wall and had to pass the ball," Berg said. "It's nobody's fault that we threw the interception. They knew we were going to throw the ball and we got pressured a little bit. It's one of those things that happens."
On the Bulldogs' next two possessions, they fumbled the snap and threw another interception as they tried to score quickly. De Soto took over with 21 seconds left and kneeled on the ball, ending the game.
"We've just got to eliminate our penalties and not turn the ball over," Berg said.
Both teams started the game slowly as they combined for five straight punts. Then, BHS senior Brandon Reed recovered a De Soto fumble deep in Bulldog territory.
After a BHS punt, the Bulldogs held the Wildcats on a fourth-down attempt on the BHS 30-yard line. On the following play, BHS sophomore Sam Beecher rushed right up the middle of the field for a 70-yard touchdown run. Sophomore Logan Schiller added the extra point to give Baldwin a 7-0 lead in the second quarter.
De Soto answered with a seven-play, 66-yard drive for a touchdown. The Wildcats converted the two-point try to take an 8-7 lead.
Baldwin would top that with a 61-yard reception by senior Aaron Mills that went for a touchdown. It was a screen pass from Wieden that Mills took up the BHS sideline for a score. The failed conversion left Baldwin leading 13-8.
Berg said the two big offensive plays helped, but he knows his team can't keep producing plays like those.
"We do have the big-play potential," Berg said. "You can't count on that. You have to be able to establish a running game and we weren't able to do that. We weren't consistent."
Early in the third quarter, De Soto scored a touchdown on a 35-yard pass to take a 14-13 lead. Baldwin forced two turnovers on the Wildcats' next possessions, but came away with no points.
"We couldn't capitalize on their turnovers," Berg said. "Offensively, we had some really good field position. One time we fumbled and the other time we turned the ball over on downs."
Baldwin continued to punt until it threw the two final interceptions. Berg said his team can put a drive together, but it must not commit penalties or turn the ball over to be successful.
"We have the type of offense where we can move the ball," Berg said. "Once we make a mistake like illegal motion or line up wrong, that hurts us. We don't have very many third and 15 plays in our playbook. But third and three or second and five, we are a pretty good football team."
Berg was pleased with his defense, which only allowed two offensive touchdowns by De Soto.
"There were lots of turnovers on both sides," Berg said. "Our defense just played awesome. That was the best defensive game we have played all year. You have to give our kids credit. That is a tough offense to stop and we stopped them. I can't say enough about our defense."
The Bulldogs have been working this week on fixing their own mistakes, before they play Spring Hill Friday.
"We are just going back, looking at ourselves and fixing what we can fix," Berg said. "We can't worry about Spring Hill and what they are doing. We have to fix what we do."
Baldwin will host the Broncos at 7 p.m. Friday at Liston Stadium.
"We've got to get another win at Liston," Berg said. "The kids love playing on the turf. It helps us because it is a home-field advantage."