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Baker’s football team put its Class 4A state playoff destiny securely in its own hands Friday. The Bulldogs ran their Greater Oregon League record to 2-0 with a 47-0 thumping of La Grande at Community Stadium in La Grande.
Dekker Smith, No. 46, and Jordan Harlow, with ball, shown during agame earlier this year, helped lead Baker to a 47-0 Greater Oregon League win over La Grande Friday. (Baker City Herald File Photo/Kathy Orr)
The win means Baker can claim the GOL championship and a first-round state bye with a victory over Mac-Hi Friday at Bulldog Memorial Stadium.
“It’s for the league championship,” said Baker coach Dave Johnson about the match-up with the Pioneers.
“That’s been our goal all season. We’re telling our guys that Mac-Hi is one of those groups you don’t want to let hang around or they could be trouble.”
At La Grande, Baker’s offense sputtered early, but the Bulldog defense made up for it.
“We were a little ragged to begin with,” Johnson said.
“The kids made some great plays on defense, then we got some things going on offense. We just have to continue to work to get better every day.”
Baker’s defense forced seven La Grande turnovers — four interceptions and three fumbles. Baker turned two of those turnovers into touchdowns.
Neither team scored until 5:32 remained in the first quarter. Baker quarterback Jordan Harlow then found receiver Trace Richardson along the La Grande sideline for a 66-yard touchdown. La Grande was called for pass interference on the play, which was declined. Several La Grande players also thought Richardson was out of bounds when he made the catch, but the officials didn’t agree.
Then, with 8:01 left in the first half, Dekker Smith stole the ball from the La Grande quarterback and raced 44 yards for a touchdown. Chad Adams’ two-point conversion run gave Baker a 14-0 cushion.
Baker increased its lead to 21-0 a little over two minutes later when, backed up to his own 15, Harlow found Steven Talbot alone in the flat with a short pass. Talbot used a couple of teammates’ blocks to break open and race 85 yards for the touchdown.
Rowdy LaMiller added another Baker interception late in the period to set up another Baker score.
With nine seconds left in the half, Harlow and Richardson combined again, this time for a 56-yard score and a 27-0 Baker halftime lead.
Baker needed just one series to score again in the third quarter. This time Adams broke off the right side of the line and scooted untouched into the end zone for a touchdown. Smith’s conversion kick boosted Baker on top 34-0.
Smith’s second interception set up Baker’s next TD with 5:40 left in the quarter. Smith stole the pass at the La Grande 35, and one play later Harlow found Walker Kaseberg for the touchdown.
LaMiller then completed Baker’s scoring when he intercepted another La Grande pass on the second play after the kickoff and scampered 40 yards for the TD.
That score, with 4:35 left in the third period, also meant the game would finish with a running clock due to the GOL’s 45-point mercy rule.
“When Jordan gets those two extra seconds to throw it’s lethal,” said Johnson.
“Our pass protection continues to improve by leaps and bounds. And we have two receivers who are tall, can catch the ball and run well.”
Baker finished with 443 yards total offense, and held La Grande to just 132.
Harlow finished 7-of-12 passing for 269 yards. Talbot caught three balls for 103 yards. Richardson added 122 yards on two receptions. Adams led the Baker ground attack with 110 yards on 17 carries, his second straight 100-yard game.
La Grande 0 0 0 0 — 0
B — Richardson 66 pass from Harlow (Kick failed)
B — Smith 44 fumble return (Adams run)
B — Talbot 85 pass from Harlow (Harlow kick)
B — Richardson 56 pass from Harlow (Kick failed)
B — Adams 10 run (Smith kick)
B — Kaseberg 35 pass from Harlow (Smith kick)
B — LaMiller 40 interception return (Run failed)
Rushing — Baker: Adams 17-100, Richardson 4-41, Kaseberg 1-15, Woolard 1-11, Talbot 5-8, Harlow 3-(-11). La Grande: Nicholson 12-49, White 1-3, Tuck 3-(-2), Mills 4-(-5), Burgess 3-(-7).
Passing — Baker: Harlow 7-12-1-269. La Grande: MIlls 7-20-4-94.
Receiving — Baker: Talbot 3-103, Richardson 2-122, Kaseberg 1-35, Richards 1-9. La Grande: Burgess 3-61, Powell 3-20, Nicholson 1-13.