Nathan L.

Baker's potential game-winning drive stalls five yards from the end zone

Baker football coach Dave Johnson looked at

the end of the Bulldogs' season Saturday philosophically. He was

looking at the overall big picture and not just what happened at

Bulldog Memorial Stadium.

What happened on the field was a 26-21 loss to Banks in the Class 4A

second round playoff game. What Johnson was looking at afterwards was

what had brought the Bulldogs to that point.

"I'm sure the fans will remember the game, and that we lost, for a

while," Johnson said. "But for us the growth that the kids have made in

the past year stands out. We're very proud of these kids."

The growth Johnson referred to was the Bulldogs (7-3) coming from a two-win season a year ago (although they still made the playoffs) to seven wins and the Greater Oregon League championship this season.

"The kids played hard against Banks," Johnson said. "Yes, we'd like to have a couple of plays back. The boys worked so hard to get to this place. But in the playoffs it usually boils down to a couple of plays.

"This one did get away from us, although we still had an opportunity to win in the last 50 seconds."

Trailing 26-21, Baker took over on its own 18 with 4:54 left in the game. The Bulldogs drove to the Banks 5, but stalled there.

Baker suffered losses back to the Banks 11 on two rushing plays. Quarterback Jordan Harlow then was intercepted in the end zone with 1:01 left in the game. All Banks had to do was take a knee three times to run out the clock.

After a scoreless first quarter, Baker lit the scoreboard first with 10:21 left in the first half.

Facing second down on his own 25, Harlow found Trace Richardson on a fly pattern along the right sideline. Richardson outreached the Banks defender, got bumped at the Braves' 40, stumbled, then regained his balance and sprinted to the end zone for a 75-yard touchdown. Harlow's conversion kick gave Baker a 7-0 lead.

Banks answered three plays after the kickoff when Nick Turner bolted off right tackle and outran the Baker defense 55 yards for the score. The conversion attempted failed when the center snap was bad, leaving Baker on top 7-6.

Banks took its first lead on its next series when quarterback Gabe Linehan connected with Brock Markham for a 49-yard TD pass. On the play, Linehan rolled to his right and found Markham alone behind the Baker secondary. The PAT again failed leaving Banks up 12-7.

That's where the score remained until the final seconds of the half. Then, as it has several times this season, Baker scored going into halftime.

The Bulldogs took the ball at midfield with 59.8 seconds left in the half. Chad Adams picked up seven yards on the ground. Harlow then completed three consecutive passes - to Kennan Richards, Walker Kaseberg and Richardson - to reach the Banks 9. Harlow then spiked the ball to stop the clock with 7.8 seconds left.

Harlow then found Kaseberg in the deep left corner of the end zone and lofted a high arching pass toward his receiver. Kaseberg turned first to his right then back to his left before hauling in the pass for a 14-12 Baker halftime lead.

"He made a great adjustment to the ball," Johnson said of Kaseberg's catch. "We'd just put that play in this week.

"That was also what we were trying to do at the end of the game," Johnson said, talking about the pass that was intercepted.

The Bulldogs apparently got too comfortable at halftime, at least mentally.

Baker received the second-half kickoff, but didn't get the job done. The Banks kicker "pooch" kicked the ball into an open area in the center of the Baker receiving team, and none of the Bulldogs reacted to the live ball. Banks recovered the kick at the Baker 23 and scored two plays later on a short Turner run.

"They pooched the kick and all our guys didn't react," Johnson said. "We try to instill what to do in all the kids, but on that play they didn't remember to do it."

The touchdown gave Banks a 19-12 lead.

Baker regained its final lead midway through the third quarter after forcing a Banks fumble.

Starting on the Banks 19 Baker drove for the go-ahead touchdown on a 5-yard Adams run.

Baker led 21-19 until 8:12 remained in the game. Linehan then found tight end Thomas Moore behind three Baker defenders in the end zone for a 22-yard touchdown.

Baker had driven to the Banks 9 on the series just prior to the Banks scoring drive. But passes on third and fourth down fell incomplete in the end zone.

The Bulldogs had one other opportunity to drive for the go-ahead score. But, on fourth down, Harlow went back to punt. Instead he looked to pass the ball. He appeared to find Dekker Smith at the Banks 20. Smith looked to catch the ball, just as he was hit. Although he appeared to have the ball when he hit the ground, the officials ruled the pass incomplete, giving Banks the ball on downs.

Adams finished with 122 yards on 28 carries. Harlow was 11-of-26 passing for 178 yards. Kaseberg caught five passes for 58 yards, and Richardson four for 102.

Linehan was 16-of-25 passing for 168 yards. Turner gained 162 yards on 19 carries. Neal Hammond caught seven balls for 33 yards.

"We made some great plays on offense and defense," Johnson said.

"The front guys did great, the backs ran good, and the defensive people did well. The kids played with a lot of class, played hard, played for 48 minutes. The community should be proud of these kids, and the kids should be proud of themselves."

Banks 0 12 7 7 - 26

Baker 0 14 7 0 - 21

BK - Richardson 75 pass from Harlow (Harlow kick)

BA - Turner 55 run (Pass failed)

BA - Markham 49 pass from Linehan (Pass failed)

BK - Kaseberg 9 pass from Harlow (Harlow kick)

BA - Turner 7 run (Willuhn kick)

BK - Adams 5 run (Harlow kick)

BA - Moore 22 pass from Linehan (Willuhn kick)

Banks Baker

First Downs 11 15

Rushing Yards 30-184 39-116

Passing Yards 168 178

Total Yards 352 294

Passing 16-25-0 11-26-2

Fumbles-Lost 3-2 1-1

Punts-Avg. 6-27.7 4-43.8

Penalties-Yards 6-39 5-30

Individual statistics

Rushing - Banks: Turner 19-162, Linehan 11-22. Baker: Adams 28-122, Talbot 6-7, Harlow 5-(minus-13).

Passing - Banks: Linehan 16-25-0-168. Baker: Harlow 11-26-2-178.

Receiving - Banks: Hammond 7-33, Moore 3-49, Turner 3-8, Markham 2-64, Rue 1-14. Baker: Kaseberg 5-58, Richardson 4-102, Richards 2-18.