Gerry Steele
The Baker City Herald

Defense and ball control wins football games. Top-ranked Siuslaw proved that Saturday, defeating Baker 35-18 in the Class 4A state quarterfinals at Florence.

The Vikings' defense all but shut down Baker's passing game. Baker quarterback Braden Phillips finished 10-of-16 for only 65 yards. he had three passes intercepted. Siuslaw's secondary covered Baker receivers like a blanket, with no reception longer than 15 yards.

And, Baker's Colten Richards ran for 81 yards on the ground, but the Bulldogs finished with just 91 yards rushing overall.

Then, trailing 18-14 with 4:20 left in the third quarter, Siuslaw went to its running game to take control of the second half.

The Vikings (11-0) ran 22 plays after halftime, all on the ground, scoring three touchdowns.

Baker actually scored first in the first quarter, following a Siuslaw fumble at its own 47.

Seven plays later Phillips connected on his longest pass of the day, a 15-yard touchdown to Dane Bachman. The conversion attempt was no good leaving Baker up 6-0 with 8:28 left in the quarter.

Siuslaw answered following the ensuing kickoff, marching 72 yards on eight plays. Sony Tupua, the Far West League offensive player of the year, did the honors on a 5-yard TD run. The conversion kick was good and Siuslaw led 7-6 with 5:19 left in the first quarter.

Special teams set Baker up for its second score with about three minutes left in the period.

Jake Grammon blocked a Siuslaw put with Baker recovering the ball on the Viking 3. Two play slater Phillips scored from a yard out. The conversion pass failed leaving Baker up 12-7.

That's where the score remained until midway through the second quarter.

Siuslaw then regained a 14-12 edge when quarterback John Johnson connected with Ryan Smith on a 52-yard touchdown pass. On the play, Smith appeared to be stopped for about an 11-yard gain, but busted free and outran the Baker defense to the end zone.

The teams then traded turnovers with Siuslaw leading 14-12 at halftime.

Baker opened the second half with one its longest - in terms of time - drives of the season. The Bulldogs marched 65 yards on 17 plays - eight running plays by Richards - culminating in a 2-yard touchdown run by Richards. The drive consumed 10 minutes and 40 seconds.

That 18-14 lead would be Baker's last.

Siuslaw stayed on the ground the rest of the half, getting scoring runs from Neal Larson, Alex Snow and Johnson.

The Vikings defense, meanwhile, limited Baker to just 30 yards the rest of the game.

Baker (8-3) finished the game with 156 yards on offense, Siuslaw 291.

Baker 12 0 6 0 - 18

Siuslaw 7 7 7 14 - 35

B - Bachman 15 pass from Phillips (Kick failed)

S - Tupua 5 run (Sotello kick)

B - Phillips 1 run (Pass failed)

S - Smith 52 pass from Johnson (Sotello kick)

B - Richards 2 run (Run failed)

S - Larson 19 run (Sotello kick)

S - Snow 11 run (Sotello kick)

S - Johnson 2 run (Sotello kick)

Individual statistics

Rushing - Baker: Richards 22-81, Phillips 15-5, Elwanger 2-5. Siuslaw: Tupua 21-92, Snow 4-28, Larson 2-24, Johnson 15-19, Alameda 2-9.

Passing - Baker: Phillips 10-16-3-65. Siuslaw: Johnson 7-12-0-119.

Receiving - Baker: Bachman 2-19, Taylor 2-10, Hamilton 2-9, Richards 1-9, Averett 1-7, Osborn 1-6, Dolby 1-5. Siuslaw: Alameda 3-26, Smith 2-81, Egan 1-13, Thompson 1-(-1).