Fourth quarter rally falls short as Bulldogs start 0-3
SPRING HILL — Baldwin High School’s football team nearly made a fourth-quarter comeback to win its first game of the season here Friday.
Unfortunately, a dropped pass in the end zone with six seconds left in the game ended that chance. A 13-point rally ended 3 yards short of scoring another touchdown.
“That’s all we can ask for at the end of the game,” coach Mike Berg said. “We just want a chance to win. I’m very proud of the team, because they played hard at the end. We just need to do that for the entire game.”
Baldwin (0-3) fell 34-26 to the Broncos (1-2) Friday on the Broncos’ homecoming night. BHS beat the Broncos in the turnover margin by giving it away twice, but taking it away three times.
BHS also gained 357 yards on offense. Those stats, combined with what he saw on film, is keeping Berg upbeat about his team.
“We saw a lot of positives on film,” Berg said. “The team is upbeat because we did do some nice things on offense and defense. They ran the same offense Paola did and we did a lot better job defending it. We’re getting better and that’s what we are striving to do right now.”
A Spring Hill 65-yard interception return for a touchdown seemed to lock the game up early in the fourth quarter. The Broncos led 34-13 with 9:12 remaining after the score.
Baldwin wasn’t done fighting just yet. BHS marched 67 yards in six plays to answer back with a touchdown. Spring Hill committed a personal foul penalty that helped the drive. Sophomore Will Von Bargen threw a 14-yard pass to junior Braden Souders for the score. Baldwin’s two-point conversion failed, making the score 34-19.
The Bulldogs then booted an onside kick. Junior Josh Hoffman’s kick bounced high in the air; as the Broncos’ player was about to catch it, he was hit hard by a Bulldogs’ player. Sophomore Brandon Schmidt recovered the ball.
“That’s exactly how we had it drawn up,” Berg said. “He executed it perfectly. Our kids ran down there and one of our kids got a great hit on one of their guys. Then we had a couple guys jump on the ball. It was perfectly executed.”
Ten plays later, the Bulldogs scored another touchdown. Their 40-yard drive ended with another Von Bargen pass. He found senior Camdon Schwartz for a 12-yard strike on a fourth down and seven.
“I was really proud of the way we played in the second half, because we did a lot better,” Schwartz said. “If we would have played like that for the whole game, we would have beat them pretty good.”
Hoffman booted the extra point to make the score 34-26. The Bulldogs tried a second onside kick, but Spring Hill recovered the ball.
However, the Broncos star running back fumbled the ball on the next play. BHS recovered on the Broncos’ 48-yard line with 3:36 remaining and no time outs to call.
The Bulldogs converted three straight third-down conversions on the drive. The first was a 9-yard pass from Von Bargen to junior Ryan Rogers. Von Bargen then threw a screen pass to Schwartz, which turned into a 24-yard gain on the next third down.
The second came on a pass interference call on Spring Hill. The Bulldogs had first down and goal at the 4-yard line. After two runs, they spiked the ball to stop the clock. The final play was a pass from Von Bargen to Schwartz, but it was incomplete.
“The kids are learning from their mistakes and that’s what we have to do,” Berg said. “There are so many things in a football game that you can make mistakes doing. We’re kind of going through all of them.”
Baldwin’s first touchdown came on the opening drive of the contest. BHS drove 75 yards in six plays to take a 6-0 lead. Hoffman carried the ball five times for 65 yards during the drive. He rushed in from 2 yards out to score.
“We came out unprepared and we underestimated them, because they were 0-2 just like we were,” Schwartz said. “We came out and scored early, so I think we just got the mentality that we were going to beat them pretty easily. They came back and we weren’t ready. Then it went downhill from there.”
Berg was proud of his team’s effort on the opening drive, but he said they must maintain that all game.
“We came out with great intensity,” Berg said. “Kids stayed on their blocks and the running backs ran hard. Then the intensity left. I haven’t put my finger on it. I don’t know if we’re out of condition or if we thought Spring Hill would roll over and give us the game. In a varsity game, you’ve got to play the entire 48 minutes.
“We didn’t hit the erase button on this one,” he said. “It was just two equal teams battling. That’s what it’s going to be for the rest of the year. We are going to have to play hard and play with 100 percent effort the entire game.”
Baldwin will play a second consecutive road game this Friday. BHS will play at 7 p.m. at De Soto.