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Fruitland entered Friday’s non-league football game at Bulldog Memorial Stadium ranked No. 1 in their division in Idaho.
Baker’s Dekker Smith, left, and Walker Kaseberg, No. 15, brought down a Fruitland runner during action at Bulldog Memorial Stadium Friday. Fruitland defeated the Bulldogs 50-30. (Baker City Herald/Kathy Orr)
The undefeated Grizzlies had allowed opponents just nine total points in their first four games.
And Fruitland, as always, fields a never-ending stable of running backs.
Baker coach Dave Johnson and his Bulldogs knew all of the above before Friday’s game. The Bulldogs then got to see this year’s version of the Grizzlies up close in a 50-30 loss.
“They’re a good football team,” Johnson said. “But we responded most of the time to what they were doing.”
In fact, Baker scored first on the vaunted Grizzlies, and managed to pull even at 15-15 early in the second quarter before Fruitland pulled away.
“We were hanging right with them,” Johnson said. “Then we let our intensity slide a little bit.
“Although we don’t like the final results, what we got from this game with a lot of guys playing a lot are some good results we can build on.”
Johnson liked several things he saw from the Bulldogs throughout the drizzly evening.
“We played with greater intensity than we have all season,” he said.
“I thought defensively we did some good things at times, and thought the offense also played well at times. The kids never gave up.”
Baker shocked the Grizzlies three plays into the game by lighting the scoreboard on a long pass play.
Two running plays netted little, giving the Bulldogs a third-and-11 on their own 19. Quarterback Jordan Harlow then found Walker Kaseberg on the fly near midfield. Kaseberg took the pass in stride, broke a couple of tackles and raced 81 yards for a 6-0 Baker lead.
Fruitland answered with 15 straight points, including a safety when Harlow was called for intentional grounding in the end zone, to take a 15-7 lead into the second period.
Baker opened the second quarter by driving for its second touchdown. Harlow completed the drive by connecting on a 2-yard TD pass with tight end Dekker Smith. Harlow then found Kaseberg with the two-point conversion to knot the game at 15 with 10:45 left in the first half.
Fruitland then took advantage of two Harlow interceptions in the final four minutes of the half to score 21 unanswered points for a 36-15 halftime lead.
Baker’s cause also was hurt by 86 yards in penalties in the first half.
Fruitland added two more scores in the third quarter to build its lead to 50-15.
Then, instead of lying down and quitting Baker answered with a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns of its own.
The first came on a 5-yard run by Chad Adams. Harlow sparked the scoring drive by going 4-for-4 passing. Cole Brown caught two of those passes for 34 yards, Kaseberg one for 11, and Adams one for 24.
Then, after Baker blocked a Fruitland punt, Harlow found Brown on a 15-yard scoring strike with 1:11 left in the game.
Fruitland totaled 433 yards on offense, 387 on the ground. Baker answered with 293 total yards. Harlow threw for 212 yards.
Baker is idle this week before opening Greater Oregon League Oct. 17 with the homecoming game against Ontario.
“We’ll get everything all gathered up and take care of any injuries this coming week,” Johnson said.
“It’s that time of year. Every game now will be for the league championship. It’s always a great rivalry with Ontario. We just have to go out and get it done.”
Baker 7 8 0 15 — 30
B — Kaseberg 81 pass from Harlow (Harlow kick)
F — Fabricius 15 run (Flannery kick)
F — Safety
F — Varriale 48 run (Kick failed)
B — Smith 2 pass from Harlow (Kaseberg pass from Harlow)
F — Crim 3 run (Fabricius pass from Edwards)
F — Varriale 8 run (Flannery kick)
F — Smith 12 pass from Edwards (Kick failed)
F — Crim 9 run (Flannery kick)
F — Crim 42 run (Flannery kick)
B — Adams 5 run (Kaseberg pass from LaMiller)
B — Brown 15 pass from Harlow (Harlow kick)
Rushing — Fruitland: Crim 15-126, Varriale 10-104, Fabricius 6-67, Macfarlane 10-45, Martin 6-28, Rayo 3-19, Blackwell 2-3, Stanger 1-2, Graves 2-(-1), Suitter 1-(-2), Edwards 1-(-4). Baker: Talbot 6-58, Adams 12-25, Smith 1-4, Harlow 3-(-6).
Passing — Fruitland: Edwards 1-2-0-12, Fabricius 1-1-0-34. Baker: Harlow 11-20-2-212.
Receiving — Fruitland: Saldavar 1-34, Smith 1-12. Baker: Kaseberg 4-110, Brown 4-72, Adams 1-24, Talbot 1-4, Smith 1-2.