Baker High School was poised to put Madison Prep away Thursday evening, but was unable to separate itself from the Chargers.
Stymied by penalties and a sluggish offense, Baker held on for a 12-6 win in a game that featured a scoreless second half.
The win keeps Baker (5-2, 3-0) tied for the lead with University High in District 6-3A. The Buffaloes have key district games with West Feliciana and U-High remaining.
“It was a gritty game on both sides,” Baker coach Eric Randall said. “Our kids know their kids (and) theirs know ours. We just couldn’t put them away, and that speaks volumes about the coaching staff at Madison Prep.”
Madison Prep had the ball at the BHS 38 with less than a minute to play. Jeremiah Bell recovered Roy Davis’ fumble to end the drive, and Baker ran out the clock.
Kiley Clifton was the most consistent offensive player for either team, and led Baker with 24 carries for 117 yards and a touchdown. Quarterback Tyren Henderson completed 5 of 8 passes, but one of them was a perfectly thrown 41-yard touchdown pass to Bryant Williams in the second quarter.
“This was personal for us,” Clifton said of his motivation. “We had a devastating loss to them last year, and we wanted payback. We had it on our mind from the start.”
Madison Prep struggled to move the ball but benefited from 168 yards in penalties against Baker. Davis gained just 21 yards on 12 carries, and Zeon Chriss threw for 74 yards.
The Chargers, who lost two fumbles and had an interception, headed to their buses immediately after the game and were unavailable for comment.
Baker dominated the first half but only managed to take a 12-6 lead.
The Buffaloes outgained MPA 240-75 yards but lost field position with special-teams play.
The kick teams averaged 25 yards on two punts and allowed a 28-yard kickoff return.
That kickoff return set up MPA’s only scoring drive when it moved 49 yards in six plays. Chriss completed four passes, the last a 4-yard touchdown pass to Desmond Reed. The extra point was blocked leaving the Chargers down 12-6 with less than four minutes to play in the half.
Baker took the opening kickoff and drove 80 yards for a touchdown. The Buffaloes started off with consecutive illegal procedure penalties, but Desmond Henderson took a screen pass 27 yards to jump-start the drive.
Clifton carried the load the rest of the way with five carries for 38 yards.
Clifton capped the drive with a 2-yard run.
In the second quarter, Baker went 49 yards in two plays for its second touchdown. Clifton broke off a 12-yard run before Henderson found a tightly covered Bryant Williams in the left corner of the end zone for the score.
Baker failed on 2-point tries after each of its touchdowns.