Turnovers doom Bulldogs
LOUISBURG -- Turnovers can be a momentum killer in the game of football.
Baldwin High School coach Mike Berg knows that all too well.
His Bulldogs (3-2) committed three turnovers during the third quarter on three consecutive possessions. They went on to lose 31-20 against the Louisburg Wildcats (5-0) here Friday night.
"I was so proud of the character our kids showed after coming back from being down 21-0," Berg said. "It was an exciting second quarter and we brought a lot of momentum with us into halftime. Then we came out and put the ball on the ground. You can't do that against the second best team in (Class) 4A. We can't turn the ball over. We are doing it way too much this year."
BHS rallied from a 21-0 deficit to close the lead to 21-14 at halftime. Baldwin had all of the momentum on its side as it scored two touchdowns during the final minute of the half.
Then the momentum shifted right back to the Wildcats.
On the opening play from scrimmage of the second half, junior Sam Beecher fumbled the ball. Louisburg took over at the Baldwin 24-yard line. Four plays later, senior Jesse Green intercepted a pass and gave Baldwin life again.
However two plays later, senior Gabe Mason fumbled and the Wildcats recovered again. This time Louisburg kicked a field goal to take a 24-14 lead.
The Bulldogs began driving on their next possession, until tragedy struck again. Mason rushed for a first down and appeared to be down before he fumbled once again.
"We had a lot of momentum at halftime," Beecher said. "Then we had three fumbles that turned the momentum completely around."
Louisburg scored its final touchdown early in the fourth quarter. That score gave LHS a 31-14 lead with 9:31 remaining in the contest.
Baldwin did find the end zone again. Beecher broke loose on a run for 65 yards and a touchdown. BHS attempted an on-side kick, but the ball fell short of its necessary 10 yards when it was recovered after 9 yards.
LHS ran the remaining clock out to remain undefeated as the Bulldogs fell to 3-2 on the season.
"We've had five fumbles in our two losses," Beecher said. "We work hard on that at practice. We have to get better at that."
The Wildcats jumped out to a quick 21-0 lead in the game as they scored on three of their first four possessions. They threw for two scores and rushed for one more.
"We knew they would do that," Berg said. "We knew exactly where they were going to run the ball. We knew it was coming and we worked on it all week. They were so quick, that if we didn't get off of the block, they were by us."
Baldwin was forced to punt on its first four possessions as it went three-and-out each time.
"It took us a while to get into the flow of the game, get their speed down and stay on our blocks," Berg said. "They are fast defensively. We adjusted and did really well in the second quarter."
The Bulldogs did rally late in the second quarter. They capped off a 14-play, 63-yard drive with a 1-yard touchdown from senior Drew Berg. The drive lasted 6:51 as Berg crossed the end zone on a quarterback sneak.
Baldwin took advantage of a great opportunity to finish out the half. Logan Schiller placed his kickoff near the sideline, but the ball stayed in bounds. Louisburg's Jason Spradling dove for the ball, but as he did, Mason delivered a thunderous hit.
The ball squirted out and senior Chris Behrend recovered the ball. The hit also put the Wildcats' star out of the game.
"You have to give Logan Schiller credit," coach Berg said. "He kicked it to the perfect spot. He kicked it and Gabe Mason came down and delivered a good hit. Our coverage team did a super job and recovered that fumble. That was a huge play."
BHS scored three plays later on a 28-yard pass from D. Berg to junior Brandon Tommer. The pass deflected off Beecher's hands and into Tommer's hands for a touchdown. The two scores cut the Wildcats' lead to 21-14 at half.
"After we fell behind 21-0, coach Berg told us we aren't going to change the game plan," Beecher said. "We had to score to get our confidence back."
Coach Berg said the Bulldogs will learn from their mistakes against Louisburg and get better.
"We will fix those things and learn from them," coach Berg said. "I was so proud of how our kids played, because they never gave up. That's what is so special about this group."
Baldwin returns home this week for its homecoming game. The Bulldogs will host Osawatomie at 7 p.m. Friday at Liston Stadium.
"We are definitely ready to be back home," coach Berg said. "We love playing at Liston."