Bulldogs weather Cyclones to 46-0 rout
Sam Cooper took the hand off, ran around several Ottawa defenders and up the sideline for his first-ever varsity touchdown.
It was the highlight of his young career. Cooper, a Baldwin High School sophomore, helped the Bulldogs defeat the Cyclones 46-0 Friday night at Liston Stadium.
"It was a lot of fun to score," Cooper said. "As I was running, I thought back to the Prairie View game where that one guy stopped me. I said this guy wasn't going to stop me. I just ran him over and scored. It was so exciting."
Cooper entered the game late in the third quarter, but he was joined by the rest of the junior varsity team for the entire fourth quarter. The JV Bulldogs scored on their opening possession, but were forced to punt twice late in the game.
"This was very exciting," coach Mike Berg said after the game. "It was a total team effort. The young kids came in and played very good football in the second half. I am proud of all of the kids tonight."
It wasn't just the Bulldogs' offense that pleased Berg on Friday; the defense stepped up and held Ottawa scoreless. The Cyclones drove the ball deep into Baldwin territory on their last possession.
BHS senior Chris Behrend forced a fumble that was scooped up by junior Alan Callahan at Baldwin's 2-yard line. One play later, the game was over.
"That's big, because it means our kids are taking pride in the program," Berg said. "They are playing until the very end. That's what we are teaching them; play to the whistle and play to the very end. That's what they did tonight."
Friday's game started ugly for Baldwin. On the first play of the game, junior
Sam Beecher fumbled. Ottawa recovered, but punted three plays later.
The Bulldogs began the next drive on their own 3-yard line. A few plays later, senior Gabe Mason fumbled his carry, but the Bulldogs recovered. The drive ended with a 51-yard pass from senior Drew Berg to senior Zach Durr that put BHS up 7-0.
"Ottawa did a nice job of stacking the line of scrimmage," coach Berg said. "We had to pass a little bit to loosen them up. We've started working on that the last couple of weeks and I think it's shown some improvement."
After the first touchdown, Baldwin rolled over the Cyclones for the rest of the contest. BHS gained 500 yards of offense and held Ottawa to 130 yards, which includes 63 on the Cyclones last drive of the game.
Baldwin's second possession lasted two plays. Berg found junior Brandon Tommer across the middle for a 24-yard pass. Then Beecher redeemed himself with a 46-yard touchdown run to give BHS a 14-0 lead.
"I've had some troubles with fumbling and we've been working on that in practice quite a bit," Beecher said. "Hopefully, that will be the last one this year.
"I was really happy to score then, because I knew I could have broken that first play for a big run," Beecher said. "I wanted to make up for that, so I read my holes right and ran hard."
The Bulldogs added another score before the first quarter was over. Mason rushed for a 25-yard touchdown as the Bulldogs jumped out to a 21-0 first quarter lead.
Mason credited the offensive line for the 375 yards of rushing the Bulldogs totaled Friday.
"It starts with the line, of course," Mason said. "They had great blocks that allows us backs to get through the holes and get the yards we needed."
Beecher agreed and said the offensive line expected big runs Friday.
"Our offensive line really worked on getting off the ball on their blocks this week," Beecher said. "They worked on getting up to the linebackers. They were expecting us backs to be breaking 20-yard runs tonight. We had to live up to what they wanted."
Baldwin also found the end zone on its next two possessions. Berg and Tommer hooked up again, this time on a 48-yard bomb.
The final touchdown before half came with less than a minute remaining in the second quarter. Beecher crossed the end zone again on a 6-yard run. Baldwin led 33-0 at the break.
"I am kind of glad that we showed up and were ready to play tonight," Mason said. "We didn't have the greatest practice yesterday, but we came out and played hard tonight."
The Bulldogs wasted no time in putting away the Cyclones in the second half. After a three-and-out by Ottawa, aided by a third down by Ethan Hebenstriet, the Bulldogs marched 68 yards in eight plays. Senior Jared Hall finished off the drive with a 20-yard scamper into the end zone.
Baldwin maintained its 40-0 lead until Cooper found the end zone. The late fumble recovery by Callahan sealed the victory Friday night.
"It feels great," Beecher said. "We've been gunning for a shut out for a couple of games now and tonight we got it."
The Bulldogs (3-1) next face undefeated Louisburg (4-0). The game will begin at 7 p.m. Friday in Louisburg.
"If we practice like we did today, it will be a great game Friday," coach Berg said Tuesday. "We had our best practice of the year today. The kids know what they are going to get from Louisburg and they didn't like what happened to us last year because Louisburg thumped us."