Baldwin defense dominates in 28-9 victory
Call it a Friday the 13th conundrum. Baldwin was a dominant team in its football game Friday against Paola but not a sharp one.
The Bulldogs had a punt blocked for a safety, had another punt tipped, turned the ball over on a fumbled snap and was flagged nine times for 120 yards but still managed to pull away from visiting Frontier League foe Panthers, 28-9.
“It was sloppy game, and I’m glad we have practice next week because we have a lot of mistakes to fix,” coach Mike Berg said. “I think we’re playing a little bit careless right now. We have a lot of talent on this team. I told them to make their mistakes full speed, and they made their mistakes full speed.”
What was consistently good for the Bulldogs was its defense. It limited Paola to three first downs through the first three quarters and didn’t allow the Panthers to sustain a drive until the fourth quarter.
Paola opened with a 28-14 victory against St. James Academy, using a grinding running game. Coach Berg said the Bulldogs loaded the box with eight players and depended on the speed of corners Chad Berg and Cornell Brown to cover the Panthers’ bigger receivers.
The Baldwin offense sputtered early. After a holding penalty wiped out a big Brown punt return, the Bulldogs started their first possession on their own 11-yard line. The bad field position and subsequent failure to move the ball proved costly when Paola blocked a punt through the end zone for a safety.
Baldwin’s defense quickly gave the offense the ball back. The drive again started on the Bulldogs’ 11-yard-line, but this time Baldwin was able to move the ball past midfield before another mistake, a fumbled snap, gave the ball back to the visitors.
Once again, the defense stepped up, forcing Paola to punt after three plays.
“I thought the defensive and offensive lines played well,” coach Berg said. “They opened some holes and on crucial third downs, the defensive line got sacks. That's all you can ask of your defensive line.”
After the second stop, the offense responded with a five-play, 72-yard touchdown drive. Berg capped the drive with a weaving 42-yard touchdown run with 10:26 to play in the second quarter.
Everything went right for Baldwin in it next possession. The seven-play, 67-yard drive ended with a 25-yard touchdown strike from Berg to senior Luke Fursman.
The Bulldogs ended their big second quarter with a 10-play, 62-yard scoring drive. Berg completed the drive with an 8-yard touchdown run with just 9 seconds to play in the half.
Baldwin scored its final touchdown on a 45-yard, two play drive near the end of the third quarter. Brown scored on a 7-yard run up the middle after Berg busted loose on a 46-yard scramble.
“Those long runs were really fun,” the senior quarterback said. “All my teammates are blocking for me downfield, and they are making me look good.”
Baldwin is now 2-0 and 1-0 in league play. The Bulldogs will play a non-conference game next week against St. James Academy at Liston Stadium..
“They’ll throw the ball all over the place,” coach Berg said. “We probably won’t get out of here until after 11 (p.m.).”
Baldwin 28, Paola 9
Baldwin (2-0, 1-0): 0 21 7 0 – 28
Paola (1-1, 0-1): 2 0 0 7 – 9
Baldwin scoring: Chad Berg 42-yard run (Matt Michels kick); Berg 25-yard pass to Luke Fursman (Michels kick); Berg 7-yard touchdown run (Michels kick); Brown 7-yard touchdown run (Michels kick).
Paola scoring: Mitchell Sloan blocked punt for safety; Andrew Henn 8-yard pass to Sloan (Luke Wilson kick)