Coffeyville — The length of the football.
That small distance took the wind from the Baldwin Bulldogs’ bid to regain momentum midway through the third quarter of its breezy 4A state quarterfinal football game Friday against the Coffeyville Golden Tornado.
After giving up 20 wind-aided second-quarter points to the Golden Tornado, the Bulldogs started of the second half determined to reestablish the offensive vigor they enjoyed in the first quarter, when they built a 14-0 early lead.
With senior quarterback Chad Berg leaning on crutches to watch the action from the sideline, Baldwin started the second half using the old-school single- and double-wing formations that were so effective in its victory against Tonganoxie a week earlier. Staying on the ground the whole way, the Bulldogs moved the ball 80 yards against the stiff wind from its own 18-yard line.
Sophomore Joel Katzer started the drive with runs of 30 and 12 yards. Senior Cornell Brown picked up nine yards on up a big fourth-and-seven run to keep the drive alive. Baldwin drove to the Coffeyville 12-yard line before being flagged for a personal foul on first down, which moved them back to the 27-yard line. Joel Katzer’s 19-yard run gave the Bulldogs a chance to overcome the flag. But officials spotted the Bulldogs’ fourth-and-two run up the middle the length of the football short, giving the ball back to Coffeyville.
“We came out the second half and established a great drive, but we just didn’t stick it in,” Baldwin High School coach Mike Berg said. “If we go down and score on that drive, it’s a whole new ball game. If we kick the extra point, we go up 21-20.”
With the wind at its back, Coffeyville drove from its own one-yard line the length of the field for a touchdown that increased its advantage to 28-14 with a two-point conversion.
Baldwin started the game playing as it had all season, controlling the ball and putting points on the board after lengthy drives of 66 and 81 yards, capped by two yards runs from sophomore Jake Katzer and Brown.
The game changed when Coffeyville got the ball in the second quarter with a strong wind at its back, making senior quarterback Nathan Finley much more effective. Junior running back LaDarrius Johnson got the home team on the board with a 10-yard touchdown run. But the big momentum swing came when Coffeyville scored twice in 67 seconds late in the second quarter. Finley evened the score with a sneak from the one-yard line with 2:21 remaining in the first half and connected with Darren Deffebaugh for a 37-yard touchdown with 1:14 in the half.
Coffeyville would pad its lead in the fourth quarter to 35-14 with a short field drive from midfield.
Baldwin’s comeback started with Brown’s 36-yard touchdown pass to senior Tim Craig with 6:27 to play in the fourth quarter. Baldwin got within eight when Brown scored on a four-yard run with 24 seconds to play, but the Bulldogs couldn’t recover the ensuing onside kick.
With the loss, Baldwin ended the season with an 11-1 record. The Bulldogs earned its first undefeated regular season in more than two decades and won the Frontier League championship. The pain of the loss was from the investment the team made in the program, especially its 16 seniors, coach Mike Berg said.
“These kids brought our program to a new level,” he said. “We went undefeated until the end. I’ve never experienced this, and it’s the leadership. After the season ended last year, these kids told me, ‘We want to be better. What can we do to be better?’ I said just keep working go to camps, hit the weights. And they did it all.”
Coffeyville, 11-1, will play Paola, 11-1, Friday at Paola.
Coffeyville 35, Baldwin 27
Baldwin 7 7 0 13 - 27
Coffeyville 0 20 7 8 – 35
Baldwin scoring: Jake Katzer, two-yard run (Matt Michels kick); Brown, 2-yard run (Michels kick); Brown 36-yard pass to Tim Craig (Michels kick); Brown, four-yard run (kick failed)
Coffeyville: LaDarrius Johnson, 10-yard run (kick good);Nathan Finley, one-yard run (kick good); Darren Deffebaugh 37 pass from Finley (kick failed); Finley 10-yard run (James Newton two-point conversion); Johnson, one-yard run (kick good)