Longtime Baker football fans will remember several years where the Bulldogs were labeled “Road Warriors” for their ability to travel and come home with a victory.
“That term was used last night,” said Baker coach Dave Johnson Saturday morning following Baker’s 17-10 win Friday at Astoria in a Class 4A state play-in game.
The Bulldogs now will travel back across the Cascades for a 4A first-round game against top-ranked Banks Friday at 6 p.m.
“The Astoria game reminded us of some of the old days where we went on the road and weren’t expected to win, but came home with the win,” Johnson said. “We’re very proud of these kids.”
Baker trailed 10-0 late in the second quarter before scoring twice in seven seconds to knot the game at 10-10 at halftime.
Trailing 10-0 with 52 seconds left in the half, Mahonri Rushton booted a 30-yard field goal — his first of the season — to pull Baker to within 10-3.
The Bulldogs then recovered an Astoria fumble on the ensuing kickoff, taking over on the Fishermen 21.
Quarterback Gabe Gambleton then connected with Riley Flanagan in the end zone for the touchdown. Rushton added the conversion kick for the tie.
“We scored 10 points in about two minutes,” Johnson said.
“To respond the way we did was great. The kids just never gave up.
“This was a special win,” Johnson said. “To get a win on the road against a quality opponent is special.”
Neither team scored in the third period.
Baker then took its first lead on the first play of the final quarter.
Again it was Gambleton and Flanagan making the connection. This time it went for 86 yards and the TD.
“It was a simple out route,” Johnson said. “Riley caught the ball, made a move and hit the jets. It was down our sideline, so we got to see the play develop.
“We weren’t trying for an 86-yard score. We were just trying to move the sticks a bit. The O line did a nice job providing some pass pro, and Gabe threw the ball well. The rest is history.”
Johnson had special praise for Baker’s defense as well.
Astoria drove inside the Baker 20 three times in the first half, but managed just 10 points.
“Kudos to those kids. They played their hearts out. To show that kind of mental toughness. The guys just never gave up,” Johnson said.
The Baker coach noted that the Bulldog defense had 29 plays where Astoria gained 3 yards or less.
“We’ve been fairly consistent with that in recent games,” Johnson said.
“Three quarters of shutout ball. Kudos for one of our best performances of the season.”
Baker - 0 10 0 7 — 17
Astoria - 0 10 0 0 — 10
A — Palmberg 21 FG
A — Olson 18 pass from Williams (Palmberg kick)
B — Rushton 30 FG
B — Flanagan 21 pass from Gambleton (Rushton kick)
B — Flanagan 86 pass from Gambleton (Rushton kick)
Rushing —Baker: Gambleton 16-102, Bloomer 5-13, Shirtcliff 1-3, Hammans 4-2. Astoria: Caruana 21-100, Stutznegger 14-53, Villa 1-(-2), Williams 8-(-13).
Passing —Baker: Gambleton 3-9-1-111. Astoria: Williams 14-23-2-133.
Receiving — Baker: Flanagan 3-111. Astoria: Hunt 5-46, Villa 4-49, Long 2-24, Olson 2-16.