Baldwin blasts Paola, 28-14
Paola—A near flawless first half helped the Baldwin Bulldogs build what proved to be an insurmountable lead as it held off the Paola Panthers to improve to 2-0 on the young season.
Baldwin left the field at halftime with a 28-0 lead and with all the momentum as it scored its fourth touchdown with just 9 seconds on the clock. Senior quarterback Tyler Cawley was a perfect 11-for-11 passing in the half.
“That was the best half of football on both sides of the ball that I’ve seen in a long time,” coach Mike Berg said. “We have a senior quarterback who has ice in his veins. Nothing rattles him.”
The second half proved tougher for the visiting Bulldogs. Penalties helped stall drives. Meanwhile, the defense was unable to keep Paola off the field as it had in the first half and made mistakes in coverage that allowed the Panthers to score two touchdowns and close the gap to the final, 28-14.
The Bulldogs’ first-half excellence was on display during the last drive before the break. After taking over with 2:58 remaining before the half, the Bulldogs moved the ball 83 yards on 11 plays into a stiff north wind for a touchdown. Cawley connected on all four of his passes on the drive. The last two were completions to senior tight end Dayton Valentine of 21 yards and 19 yards.
The two half-ending catches were part of a huge night for Valentine, which included a 60-yard first-quarter catch and run for the Bulldogs’ second touchdown. He also batted down a Paola pass on a crucial third-down play and hauled in a nifty one-handed catch.
“I don’t know how I did that,” he sheepishly confessed to Berg after the game.
The strong north wind was a factor throughout the game, starting with the opening kickoff.
“We won the coin toss and decided to kick,” Berg said. “It worked out exactly like we wanted. We have a great kicker (Austin Kraus). We knew they’d start from the 20 going into the wind.”
The strategy worked as the Bulldogs got the ball at midfield after the defense did its part. Junior Cornell Brown produced the big play of the opening drive with a 30-yard run, which took the ball to the 4-yard line. Two plays later, senior Mark Harmon crossed the goal line from a yard out.
Brown scored the Bulldogs third touchdown when in the second quarter he hauled in a 21-yard pass from Cawley.
Paola won the field position battle through most of the second half. The Panthers scored their first touchdown from 34-yards out as senior Zach Trigg got behind the Bulldog defense.
Twice in the fourth quarter, the Panthers moved the ball in the red zone, only to fumble. After the last turnover, Baldwin mounted its best sustained drive of the half, taking 6 minutes off the clock as the team moved to the Paola 35 and, in effect, put the game away.
The drive, however, ended with a Cawley interception on fourth down with 1 minute on the clock. Paola scored its last touchdown with 4 seconds on the clock.
Baldwin (2-0) – 14 14 0 0 - 28
Paola (0-2) - 0 0 7 7 - 14