Baker football coach Jason Ramos knew the Bulldogs faced a formidable foe when the Homedale Trojans came to town, and for the first half of the game Baker was equal to the challenge.
But Homedale dominated the second 24 minutes, turning a close game into a 41-14 win on a crisp evening Friday, Sept. 9 at Baker Bulldog Memorial Stadium.
“We knew Homedale was gonna be good,” Ramos said after the loss that evened the Bulldogs’ record at 1-1. “The kids had great energy in the first half. We were playing really good football in the first half.”
On Homedale’s first drive, Rylan Binford, the Trojans’ powerful and shifty senior running back, converted a fourth and 2 from near midfield into a first down.
But Baker’s defense tightened, forcing a fourth and 9 from the Bulldog 34. This time the Trojans went to the air, but senior quarterback Jaxon Dines’ pass was incomplete and the Bulldogs took over.
Baker also ended up facing a fourth down, with one yard to gain from the Homedale 45.
But Baker junior quarterback Paul Hobson was dragged down behind the line of scrimmage and the Bulldogs turned the ball over on downs.
On the ensuing Homedale possession the Trojans faced yet another fourth down. Baker swatted down Dines’ pass, but the Bulldogs were flagged for pass interference, giving Homedale a first down deep in Baker territory and leading to Dines’ 1-yard keeper for the game’s first score. Homedale led 7-0 with 3:37 left in the first quarter.
After a Baker punt, junior defensive back Hudson Spike anticipated Dines’ throw and stepped in front of a Homedale player for a clean interception. Spike ran the ball to the Homedale 21 on the last play of the first quarter.
The Bulldogs didn’t waste the opportunity.
Hobson found junior Malaki Myer open and Myer took the ball inside the Homedale 5.
A play later Myer scored on a jet sweep toss from Hobson from the 3. Spike’s extra point knotted the score at 7 with 9:03 left in the first half.
Homedale scored in the final 2 minutes, on a Dines pass to Danny Lomeli, to take a 14-7 lead.
Baker nearly forged a tie before the halftime buzzer, as Hobson again got the ball to Myer on a fourth down that was the final play of the half.
Myer avoided multiple tacklers but was finally brought down at the Homedale 14 with all zeros on the clock.
Baker kicked off to open the second half, and the Bulldog coverage team swarmed the Trojan returner at the Homedale 15.
The Trojans then marched 85 yards in almost 4 minutes, relying primarily on Binford, who has a knack for finding holes in the defense and then accelerating through them.
He capped the drive with a 15-yard touchdown run, and Homedale led 21-7 with 8:09 left in the third quarter.
Still trailing by that score, Baker went for it on fourth down at its own 28, but Hobson’s pass was knocked down with 2:09 left in the third.
Homedale quickly capitalized on the field position, scoring in three plays to lead 28-7 with 1:30 left in the third quarter.
The Trojans never relinquished their momentum.
An interception on the first play of the fourth quarter brought the ball to the Baker 1, and the Trojans scored on the next play to lead 35-7.
After Homedale’s final touchdown, Baker scored the final points as freshman Rasean Jones took a jet sweep — the same play that Myer had scored on — and outran the Trojan defense for a 6-yard touchdown with 37 seconds left.
Ramos said Baker’s defense “flew around and played fast, played physical all game,” but the Bulldogs struggled at times to handle Homedale’s running game.
The Trojans amassed 304 rushing yards. The Bulldogs, including sacks and lost yardage on bad snaps, had a net of minus 19 yards rushing.
Overall, Homedale outgained Baker 410 yards to 94.
“They wore us down in the second half,” Ramos said. “I thought Homedale was able to keep kids fresh, more depth and more numbers.”
Baker also had trouble at times dealing with Homedale’s pass rush. Hobson was under duress on most dropbacks, forced to throw on the run frequently.
Several low snaps also led to lost yards, putting Baker’s offense in difficult situations, and Baker’s running game never gained much traction.
“We struggled to move the ball consistently, struggled to snap the ball for some reason,” Ramos said. “Those were drive stoppers, self-inflicted errors that caused us to struggle.”
Hobson was 14 for 25 passing for 113 yards with two touchdowns and one interception.
Kayden Garvin was Baker’s leading rusher with 30 yards on five carries, including a long of 22 yards.
Myer had six catches for 72 yards.
Defensively, sophomore Jaxon Logsdon had nine tackles. Jones had eight stops.
After a season-opening 34-26 win at Cascade, Ramos said Baker is still in a good position.
“We played a great first game, it kind of set the stage and set the standard,” he said. “We’re not looking at the Homedale game as anything more than we ran up against a really good team.”
And he expects a similar test this Friday, Sept. 16, when the Bulldogs travel to Vale to take on the Vikings in a nonleague game. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. PDT.
“Vale is traditionally tough,” Ramos said. “They’re gonna be another challenge for us this week.”
The Vikings are 2-0, with wins over Irrigon (52-14) and New Plymouth, Idaho (41-14).