By Gerry Steele
The last time a Baker football team defeated Pendleton, none of the current Bulldogs, and many of the current Baker coaches, weren’t even born.
The last Baker win in the series was 37 years ago, a 21-12 victory in 1975 by the Dwight Berry-coached Bulldog in Baker. Baker’s last victory at Pendleton was a 21-13 win in 1967 by the Gary Mires-coached Dawgs. That was the year Baker played Jesuit in a playoff game at the BHS stadium, tying the Crusaders 33-33 but failing to advance after losing the total-yardage tie-breaker.
Both of those long streaks ended Friday night.
The Bulldogs (4-1) rallied in the second half at the Pendleton Round-Up Grounds to hand the Class 5A Buckaroos (1-4) a 48-29 non-league loss.
“The kids were just outstanding,” said Baker coach Dave Johnson, who was a Pendleton asisstant coach from 1987-92.
“Once again, they were making the plays in every aspect of the game. We’re really proud of their character,” Johnson said.
“They just keep making the plays and not giving up. You could just see their confidence swell.”
Trailing 29-26 with 9:19 left in the game, Baker scored the final 22 points of the contest.
Dane Bachman got things started with a 96-yard kickoff return for a score.
On the play, Pendleton kicked off from the Baker 45 after a roughing the kicker penalty was marked off from the previous conversion try.
Bachman had to circle back and corral the ball at the Baker 4. Then, once he cleared the first wall of tacklers, he raced untouched for the go-ahead touchdown.
“Dane didn’t handle the ball real well to start,” Johnson said. “Then, after he slipped through that first crack, it was off to the races.”
Trent Taylor, who finished with 112 yards rushing, and quarterback Braden Phillips each added short running touchdowns down the stretch.
Baker trailed 7-0 after one quarter.
The Bulldogs then drove 37 yards for the go-ahead touchdown. Phillips did the honors, scoring from the 1 with 2:43 left in the first half. Phillips then added the two-point conversion giving Baker an 8-7 edge.
Pendleton quickly answered, needing just five plays to regain a 15-8 advantage.
That’s where the score remained at halftime after Baker blocked a 28-yard Pendleton field goal try with 6 seconds left in the half.
Baker then fumbled the second-half kickoff and Pendleton quickly took advantage to build its lead to 22-8 with 9:26 left in the third quarter.
“We talked at halftime about the mistakes we made in the first half, and then we come out and make another mistake to start the third quarter,” Johnson said.
“But the kids didn’t get down. Instead, they picked up their pace. My hat’s off to the boys.”
Baker pulled within 22-14 on a 22-yard Phillips pass to Bachman. The big play on the drive was a third-down Phillips pass for 48 yards to Dan Stinson.
“I thought Dan Stinson did really well,” Johnson said.
“He had been injured, and this was his first extensive playing time for a while.”
Bachman then picked off a Pendleton pass and returned it to the Pendleton 36.
Phillips later followed a lead block from Taylor for a 17-yard touchdown run, pulling the Bulldogs to within 22-20 after three quarters.
Baker took a 26-22 lead two plays into the fourth quarter when Phillips found Ben Baxter out of the backfield for a 34-yard TD strike.
Pendleton then took its last lead at 29-26 before Bachman’s kick return started Baker’s final rally.
Johnson said he liked the way Baker played in all aspects of the game.
“Our offensive front was ominous,” he said. “They gave our backs some great protection.
“And, once again, hats off to the special teams. ‘Defensively, the kids responded well. We knew Pendleton would throw the ball much like Payette, and they did really well in the first half,” Johnson said.
In fact, Pendleton completed its first 10 passes.
Baker now has a week off before opening Greater Oregon League play Oct. 12 at home against Mac-Hi.
“This was a great confidence builder for the boys,” Johnson said.
Baker - 0 8 12 28 — 48
Pendleton - 7 8 7 7 — 29
P — Polhamus 12 pass from Johnson (McCallum kick)
B — Phillips 1 run (Phillips run)
P — Holcomb 1 run (Holcomb run)
P — Johnson 8 run (McCallum kick)
B — Bachman 22 pass from Phillips (Kick failed)
B — Phillips 17 run (Run failed)
B — Baxter 34 pass from Phillips (Kick failed)
P — Johnson 3 run (McCallum kick)
B — Bachman 96 kickoff return (Bachman pass from Phillips)
B — Phillips 4 run (Taylor kick)
B — Taylor 2 run (Taylor kick)
Rushing —Baker: Taylor 17-112, Phillips 18-86, Dolby 1-2, Baxter 1-(-1). Pendleton: Holcomb 24-97, Johnson 6-(-21).
Passing — Baker: Phillips 11-20-0-169. Pendleton: Johnson 22-34-3-262.
Receiving — Baker: Stinson 4-88, Dolby 3-11, Bachman 2-31, Baxter 1-34, Cline 1-5. Pendleton: Polhamus 10-177, Hancock 6-43, Rivera 3-27, Holcomb 3-15.