MILTON-FREEWATER — It was a tale of two halves for the McLoughlin High School football team here Friday.
After the Pioneers held a 7-6 lead at halftime, Baker promptly responded with 16 unanswered points to win, 22-7.
Big plays doomed the Pioneers (2-5) in the second half, as Baker’s Ben Baxter hauled in a 66-yard pass from quarterback Thomas Hamilton for a touchdown in the third quarter.
But Mac-Hi stayed within striking distance for the entire game, which had head coach Tim Hutchison more than pleased with his squad.
“The boys played with all heart and sometimes that’s the way football works,” Hutchison said. “(Baker’s) a great football team. They’re well coached and these guys went toe-to-toe with them for four quarters. A couple inches here and a couple inches there and it’s a different ballgame.”
On the ensuing Pioneer drive after the long score, Mac-Hi took the ball from its own 31-yard line and moved it all the way to Baker’s 17-yard line.
But the Pioneers squandered the good field position, as two penalties moved the offense back 20 yards and forced a Mac-Hi punt.
The Pioneers had success on the ground against the Bulldogs, as Mac-Hi piled up 138 rushing yards. Quarterback Chase Copenhaver (77 yards) and running back Blake Yensen (61 yards) used the read-option to pick up big chunks of yardage for most of the game.
Copenhaver, however, was quick to heap praise onto the big bodies blocking for him up front.
“We have a really young line, but they’re doing a really good job this year,” Copenhaver said. “They’ve been picking it up these last couple games. Me and my running back, Blake Jensen, have pretty good holes to run through.”
Copenhaver scored Mac-Hi’s only touchdown, as Mac-Hi opened the second quarter by chewing up more than six minutes off the clock. Copenhaver and Yensen were responsible for all 74 yards on the drive, with the quarterback punctuating the drive with a 13-yard scamper.
“We were so excited,” Copenhaver said. “This is the first time we’ve led Baker in I don’t know how long. We were ready to go into the second half.”
The defense set up the long touchdown drive, as Mac-Hi ended the first quarter with a huge fourth-down stop. With Baker inside the Pioneers’ 20-yard line, the Bulldogs’ Hamilton moved out of the pocket looking for Lukas Huggins on the left side of the field.
But the defense held and forced the incompletion to give the ball back to their offense.
Hutchison said the fourth-down stop shifted the momentum back to Mac-Hi.
“One of two things happens there; either the boys respond or they fold,” Hutchison said. “They didn’t fold, they responded.”
But Mac-Hi could not sustain its big first half, as Baxter put the game out of reach with a 17-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. The Pioneers’ defense held Baxter and the Baker running game in check for most of the night, as the Bulldogs finished with only 92 yards on the ground.
Unfortunately, the few mistakes the defense made proved to be costly.
“Everybody did their job,” Hutchison said. “That’s what we preached all week, is everyone just has to do their job. For the most part, everyone did their job. We had a couple breakdowns and we gave up touchdowns on them. Other than that it’s a different ballgame.”
Mac-Hi honored five seniors for senior night, as Copenhaver, Yensen, Beau Birdwell, Aaron Lefore and Robert Burton played their final home games. Hutchison credited all of his seniors for their effort during their tenures at Mac-Hi.
“We’re just so proud of these guys,” Hutchison said. “These seniors have done a great job all four years they’ve been here.”
Mac-Hi closes its season with a road game at La Grande next week.
Baker 22, Mac-Hi 7
Baker 6 0 8 8 — 22
Mac-Hi 0 7 0 0 — 7
Baker: Huggins 16 pass from Hamilton (Jones XP no good)
Mac-Hi: Copenhaver 12 run (Birdwell XP)
Baker: Baxter 66 pass from Hamilton (Hamilton pass to Bachman for 2-pt)
Baker: Baxter 17 run (Hamilton pass to Bruce for 2-pt)
First Downs 13 10
Rushes-Yards 31-92 34-138
Passing Yards 226 24
Passes (Att-Comp-Int) 24-15-0 9-3-1
Punts 3-97 6-212
Fumbles-lost 0-0 0-0
Penalties-Yards 8-53 6-55
RUSHING — Baker: Baxter 21-82-1. Cline: 2-23. Team: 8-(-13); Mac-Hi: Copenhaver 17-77-1. Yensen 17-61.
PASSING — Baker: Hamilton: 24-15-0 226 yards 2 TDs; Mac-Hi: Copenhaver 9-3-1 24 yards.
RECEIVING — Baker: Huggins 6-58-1. Bachman 5-64. Powell 1-8. Bruce 1-10. Baxter 2-86-1; Mac-Hi: Podolski 3-24.