LORANGER — Three players rushed for more than 100 yards and 30th-seeded Baker upset No. 3 Loranger 28-21 in a Class 3A first-round playoff game Friday night.
After the win, Baker coach Eric Randall credited his team's offensive line as the Buffaloes rushed for 378 yards.
“That offensive line has been together since the ninth grade with the exception of a couple of juniors who came in later on,” Randall said. “They have done a tremendous job. We have to take some pressure off those guys in terms of our passing game. I'm proud of them — (nearly) 400 yards says a lot about those running backs but the offensive line opened the holes.”
Baker (6-4) will face No. 14 Iota in a rematch from last season's playoffs in the second round. Loranger finished 10-1.
“We battled back in the second half but put ourselves in too big a hole,” Loranger coach Sam Messina said. “They controlled the line of scrimmage from the beginning of the game and we never could take control of it. They kept the ball away from us and outnumbered our plays pretty close two to one.
"They made first downs when they had to make them. I have to give credit to them. They came in as a physical team and took it to us.”
Baker finished with 51 rushing plays. Kiley Clifton had 140 yards and a score on 20 attempts. Quarterback Damien Knighten added 112 yards and a touchdown on six carries while Desmond Windon carried 16 times for 101 yards and a touchdown. Travonte Spears also scored on a 3-yard run.
Baker quickly established its rushing attack on its opening drive, going 86 yards on three runs. Knighten kept for 37 yards before Windon broke one for 10 to the Loranger 28. Clfton then went over the right side for the 28-yard score. Knighten was stopped on the 2-point conversion try, keeping Baker up 6-0 with 9:30 left in the first quarter.
Loranger struck right back after Courtney Alexander returned the ensuing kickoff to the Baker 14. Jake Messina found a wide-open Coy Disher in the right side of the end zone from the 5 three plays later, and Beau Landry added the extra point to put the Wolves up 7-6 at the 7:49 mark of the opening period.
Baker regained the lead on a 6-yard Windon sprint up the middle on the second play of the second quarter, capping a seven-play, 55-yard drive. Clifton ran in the conversion to extend the lead to 14-7 with 11:28 left before halftime.
Travonte Spears bulled in from the 3 and Windon found the left pylon following an offsides penalty on the conversion to push the Buffaloes' lead to 22-7 with 5:18 remaining in the half.
Loranger pulled to within 22-14 as Cyn'Tonio McClain spun off center on a 1-yard run with 1:12 left in the third. But Baker answered with a 18-yard keeper by Knighten off the right side to go up 28-14 with 9:05 remaining in the game.
Loranger again pulled to within one score as Messina faded a 15-yard pass to D'antae Mcgee in the right corner of the end zone with 4:02 left. But after a blocked punt gave the Wolves possession at the 46 with 2:06 left, Messina threw four straight incompletions, the last knocked down by Tramonte Spears at the 38 with 1:40 left.
Messina finished 12-of-26 for 106 yards, two touchdowns and an interception.
“I talked to coach Messina this week and we talked about how easily it could have been a reversal of roles,” Randall said of the seedings. “We could have been No. 3 and they could have been 30th. There was that kind of parity in 3A. It was a hard-fought game but we talked to our kids all week about how we felt we weren't the 30th seed. But we're going to take it and move forward with it. They played hard and their kids did not give up. You can see why they were the third seed.”