Baldwin ends Spring Hill's season
By David Svoboda PrepsKC staff writer
Baldwin used dominance in all three phases of the game – offense, defense and special teams – to grab a 31-14 playoff victory over Spring Hill Tuesday night.
After battling the home-standing Broncos to a first-half deadlock, Baldwin ran off 17 unanswered points in a second half that was as dominant as Coach Mike Berg could have hoped.
“I told our kids that when you play teams like this (Spring Hill), you have to be physical,” Berg said. “And I think we were.”
It was an opportunistic Baldwin defense, the steady play of the Bulldogs’ offense – led by quarterback Cornell Brown – and the big right leg of kicker Austin Kraus that got the job done in the second half for the winners.
About that defense: Baldwin forced a Spring Hill fumble at the Bronco 40-yard-line midway through the third quarter that immediately led to the go-ahead touchdown.
Four plays after the turnover, Brown hit Luke Fursman with a jump pass that almost looked as if it was pushed. Fursman took the toss and rambled the remainder of the 40 yards for the TD that made it 21-14 in favor of Baldwin. The Bulldogs would never again trail.
Spring Hill tried to claw right back in its next possession, but on a key third and one from the Baldwin 15, Spring Hill saw an errant option pitch lead to a four-yard loss. The Broncos then went for it on fourth down and were denied once more by the stingy Bulldog defense, and the ball went over to Baldwin on downs.
Six plays and 84 yards later, Baldwin was increasing its lead to 28-14 on a fantastic individual effort by Brown, who darted 34 yards for the score with 8:34 left in the contest.
Brown ended the night with 29 carries for 213 yards, many of which came after first contact. If it appeared that he was being run until he dropped by Berg, that assumption was correct.
“We wanted to get him going again,” Berg said of Brown, who was a bit off his game in the Bulldog regular season finale, a 20-0 loss to Eudora. “He’s the guy who’s been running the show all year for us.”
After the Bulldogs grabbed that 28-14 lead, Spring Hill’s remaining possessions ended in the Broncos losing the ball on downs and turning it over on an interception.
Baldwin scored its final three points of the night when Kraus nailed a school-record 47-yard field goal with just over a minute left. The two-sport star had played in a Baldwin soccer game earlier in the day and had hustled to make the football game.
Early on, it looked as if Kraus might be called on to win a game late, as the two teams traded first half scores back and forth right up until the intermission.
Baldwin scored first, capping a 6-play, 72-yard drive when Chad Berg – who was forced to reverse his field after an initial slip – recovered and scooted 61 yards for the score. The PAT made it 7-0 Bulldogs.
Spring Hill quickly answered, going on a 7-play, 69-yard drive over the next 2:47, with Jacob McDade going over from one yard out on a second and goal.
With the clock winding down in the first quarter, the Bulldogs found the end zone for the second time. The nine-play, 65-yard drive was capped when Brown went over from the 1 on a sneak to make it 14-7 following the PAT.
The Broncos then completed the first half scoring with the most impressive drive of the initial half, going 16 plays and 65 yards over nearly 7 minutes (6:58) to tie the score at 14-14 when Micheal Epp bowled into the end zone from 2 yards out.
Brown ended the half with 16 carries for 125 yards for Baldwin in a heroic effort that allowed the Bulldogs to take the game into the second half knotted up.
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