BAKER — Sometimes, it just doesn’t work out like it’s supposed to.
Just ask Baker coach Eric Randall.
“The ball didn’t bounce our way, literally,” Randall said. “We’re just dealing with 15-to-18-year-old kids, man. They just didn’t fair catch the balls. We still love them, but that was the difference-maker in the game. We said at halftime that we wanted to erase those mistakes.”
During Baker’s 21-14 loss to University on Friday, the Buffaloes (5-4, 4-3 District 7-3A) had University (7-3, 6-1) chained to a fourth-and-15 on Baker’s 30-yard line, a likely stopping point for the Cubs’ opening drive before Cubs quarterback Tanner Lawson launched one to the goal line.
The ball was tipped by Baker defensive back Eric Randall Jr. into the hands of Gilbert Jardin for a touchdown and 7-0 lead in the first quarter.
Prepared for a deep kickoff, the Buffaloes were shellshocked by a 15-yard kick that was quickly jumped on by the Cubs. That afforded University a short field for their second touchdown and 14-0 lead.
Finding a weakness in the armor, Martin dialed up another successful onside kick. A little more than two minutes later, the Cubs found the end zone again after Derrick Graham took a handoff up the middle from 6 yards out for a 21-0 lead in the second quarter.
The pair of kicks kept Baker’s offense watching from the sideline for most of the first half, but the Buffaloes found more success on the ground than they did through the air, with four running backs featured on the opening drive. Desmond Windon generated most of Baker’s offense, finishing with 74 yards on 11 touches.
Facing one of the faster offenses on their schedule, University coach Andy Martin made sure that the Cubs defense were locked in on their fundamentals.
“We just have to make sure that we’re sure on tackling,” Martin said. “That’s the biggest thing. They tried to get outside, but when we were sure on our tackling we gave them issues. They’re a quick strike team too, they’ll look to make the big play. We were able to contain that tonight.”
Baker scored a touchdown in the third quarter and closed the gap with a little more than two minutes left to go in the fourth quarter when quarterback Damien Knighten found Tamon Dukes 18 yards downfield.
Dukes pitched it to Windon, who took it for a 24-yard gain. On the next play Knighten connected with Koiey Milton for a 55-yard touchdown along the right sideline, closing the gap to 21-14 before an unsuccessful onside kick allowed the Cubs to run the clock out.
Lawson found six different receivers throughout the course of the game, including Austin Ausberry, Trevor Evans and Gilbert, all of whom caught three passes each. The Cubs were led by Graham on the ground, who posted 50 yards on 13 carries. Christian Ard also factored into the mix, taking eight carries for 50 yards and a reception for 2 yards.