Pike Lib drops heartbreaker to Baker

Published 10:32 pm Friday, October 27, 2023

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The Pike Liberal Arts Patriots (2-7) closed out their home schedule on Friday, Oct. 27, with an exciting 32-24 loss to the Baker (Fla.) Gators (3-6).

Pike Lib rallied from a 24-0 deficit in the third quarter to score 24 unanswered points and tie things up late in the fourth quarter.

After Baker took a 24-0 lead with just over four minutes left in the third quarter, Pike Lib’s Michael Vaughn sparked the Patriots with a 45-yard kickoff return. A few plays later quarterback Dawson Bradford got the Patriots on the scoreboard with a 2-yard touchdown run. Bradford then tossed a two-point conversion to Kade Brookins to cut the lead to 24-8.

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Baker seemed poised to extend the lead as the fourth quarter began, but Jackson Mitchell stripped a Gator runner of the ball and Jackson Booth covered it up it at the PLAS 1-yard line. The Patriots then went 99 yards on just three plays as Bradford found Brookins for an 84-yard touchdown pass. Bradford and Brookins hooked up for another two-point try and PLAS was back in the game, trailing 24-16.

The Patriots then got the ball right back as Rhodes Baker recovered an onside kick at midfield. A few plays later, the Patriots pulled out some trickery as Mitchell took a pitch from Bradford and then heaved a “Halfback Pass” to Brookins for a 17-yard score. Bradford then dove into the end zone to convert a two point try and tied the score 24-24 with under three minutes left.

Unfortunately for the Patriots, Baker marched on an 8-play, 49-yard drive capped off with a 1-yard touchdown run that gave the Gators a 30-24 lead. A two-point conversion extended the lead to 32-24 with 1:13 left. The Patriots managed to drive into Gator territory in the final minute but time ran out and Baker hung on for the win.

The first half was all Baker as the Gators used its physical “double wing” offense to control the football and the clock. Pike Lib totaled (-1) yards in the first half in just six plays, while Baker netted 141 yards on 39 plays, all rushing attempts.

Neither team was able to find the end zone in the first quarter, but Baker capped off a 16-play, 67-yard drive that ate up more than eight minutes of clock with a 2-yard touchdown run with 6:14 left in the first half. The Gator two-point try was no good and BHS led 6-0.

After a Pike Lib fumble, Baker capped off a 10-play drive with a 6-yard touchdown run with under a minute left to go up 12-0. Baker’s two-point try was no good. The Gators would take that lead into halftime.

Pike Lib managed 215 yards, all in the second half, while Baker rolled up 330 yards of offense with all it coming on the ground. Bradford completed 14-of-19 passes for 168 yards and a touchdown, while Brookins caught four passes for 121 yards and two touchdowns.

On defense, Pruitt Vaughan was a “one-man wrecking crew” for the Patriots with 19 tackles and one tackle-for-loss, while John Lott tallied nine tackles and Brookins earned nine tackles and one tackle-for-loss. Mitchell added seven tackles and a forced fumble, while Booth earned eight tackles and a fumble recovery.

Pike Lib will try to finish the 2023 season strong on the road next Friday at Calhoun.