BHS running backs trample Titans
Hello, Class 4A state football semifinals.
Baldwin buried the Titans under a relentless ground attack and coasted to a 56-22 victory in Friday night's quarterfinal at Liston Stadium.
"We challenged our offensive line to keep the ball out of their hands," Baldwin coach Mike Berg said. "That was the key to the game."
Time after time after time after time -- Baldwin utilized a staggering 64 running plays and only one pass -- the Bulldogs ran the ball right down the Titans' throats.
Jared Hall was the largest lump in the Columbus esophagus, carrying 36 times for 197 yards and five touchdowns. Sam Beecher added 166 yards on 25 carries.
Mostly, it was Hall around the right side, Beecher around the left and clouds of rubber pellets from the artificial turf at Baker University's stadium.
"It was the same thing as every game," said Hall, a 5-foot-9, 180-pound senior. "The O-line was awesome, and I just ran as hard as I can."
Beecher, who scored twice, once on a 31-yard interception return, and Hall normally don't combine for 61 carries, but they were forced into extra duty because Gabe Mason, the Bulldogs' third-leading ball-carrier, was sidelined due to a thigh bruise suffered during practice early in the week.
"Some radio guy said we've been a three-headed monster," Berg said with a smile. "Well, we had only two heads tonight, and they were pretty good ones."
Better than pretty good, actually.
"Coach Berg told me I pretty much needed to take care of my body because I would get about 30 carries," said Beecher, a 5-11, 170-pound junior.
Added Hall: "We didn't get as many breaks, but we got it done."
Berg did use Mason for a couple of downs at defensive end, but opted for discretion over valor and quickly pulled the plug on the 5-8, 190-pound senior.
"Gabe wanted to give it a try," Berg said, "but I didn't want him to get hurt more."
Mason might be ready for Friday's rematch with Louisburg in the 4A semis. Louisburg (12-0), a 10-3 winner over Holton on Friday night, handed the Bulldogs (10-2) their worst defeat of the season -- 31-20 in the fifth week.
"We've had a sour taste in our mouths since then," Beecher said. "They shoved the ball down our faces, so we're anxious to play them again."
Columbus came to town with one of the most high-powered offenses in Kansas. Titans quarterback Corbin Stanley had passed for more than 2,500 yards and had compiled more than 3,000 yards of total offense.
But the Titans hardly touched the ball in the first half as Baldwin raced to a 28-6 lead. The 'Dogs ran 39 plays to the Titans' 17. Stanley threw only nine passed before the break, but the Columbus QB cranked it up in the second half.
Overall, Stanley, a 6-foot, 150-pound senior, completed 20 of 36 passes for 235 yards, but threw only one TD pass and tossed a pair of interceptions -- one to Beecher that went the other way and another to Jesse Green that set up a Baldwin score.
Stanley did run for two touchdowns, including an electrifying 58-yard sprint in the fourth quarter. By then, however, the Titans knew their three-hour bus ride back home would be a bummer because Baldwin led 49-6 after three quarters.