Baldwin A dominating first-half performance and an efficient running attack were good enough for the Baldwin High football team Friday night as it beat Santa Fe Trail, 27-8, at Liston Stadium.
With the victory, the Bulldogs moved to 7-1 on the season, 6-1 in the Frontier League and 2-0 in district play. Coupled with Eudora's victory over Spring Hill, they also wrapped up a spot in the Class 4A state playoffs.
Baldwin took control in the first half, leading 19-0 at halftime, but came out sluggish in the second half, allowing the Chargers to march down the field early in the third quarter. One score wasn't enough for the Chargers against the Bulldogs, who rushed for 272 yards on the night.
"We played well, but give them credit, they came out and knew what we were going to do," Baldwin coach Mike Berg said. "I thought we needed to do a better job executing offensively in the second half."
The Bulldogs may have been sluggish in the second half, but their offense rolled in the first half. They struck early, moving the ball down the field with little resistance from the Chargers defense. A 31-yard run by running back Klay Garrison set up John Brown for a one-yard touchdown run to give the Bulldogs an early 7-0 lead.
Santa Fe Trail (2-6, 0-2) fumbled a punt with 4:21 left in the first half, and the Bulldogs recovered and took over at the Chargers' 32-yard line. Quarterback Jeremy Wright hit tight end Rusty Flory in the end zone, widening the Bulldogs' lead to 13-0 with less than two minutes left in the first quarter.
On their first possession of the second quarter, the Chargers set up the Bulldogs with good field position again. Baldwin took over on its own 44-yard line and scored again on a five-play, 56-yard drive that took less than two minutes, as Brown capped the drive with a 13-yard touchdown run.
A halftime break wasn't enough to rejuvenate the Chargers, but Baldwin also lost some of its offensive momentum in the second half. Although BHS continued to dominate time of possession, the Bulldogs did not capitalize on two possessions where they were in scoring position.
"We came out sluggish in the second half," Berg said. "We would drive the length of the field, but couldn't put the ball in the end zone."
Baldwin's failure to score on one of those drives gave Santa Fe Trail a small burst of momentum. The Chargers scored on Aaron Beatty's one-yard touchdown run on their next possession, and the two-point conversion pulled the Chargers to 19-8 with just under three minutes left in the third quarter.
Santa Fe Trail tried to carry that offensive momentum into the fourth quarter, but Baldwin came up with an interception on the Chargers' first possession of the fourth quarter. The Bulldogs took over at the 50-yard line and marched into scoring territory, but once again failed to put the ball in the end zone.
Baldwin sealed the game on its next drive, however, as Wright walked the ball into the end zone on a quarterback keeper with 1:38 remaining.
Garrison said he was glad the Bulldogs picked up the victory, but disappointed they did not shut out the Chargers.
"I really wanted to get the goose egg," Garrison said. "It would have been our first goose egg of the season."
Baldwin 27, Santa Fe Trail 8
Santa Fe Trail - 0 - 0 - 8 - 0 - - - 8
Baldwin - 14 - 6 - 0 - 8 - - - 27
B - John Brown 1 run (Kevin Callahan kick)
B - Rusty Flory 6 pass from Jeremy Wright (kick failed)
B - Brown 13 run (run failed)
SFT - Aaron Beatty 1 run (Shawn Conklin pass from Brian Shively)
B - Wright 5 run (Flory pass from Wright)