In a game that was decided by seven turnovers—not including turnovers on downs—the Arlington-Lake Preston Badgers lost a close one to the Baltic Bulldogs, 22-16, Oct. 2 in Arlington.
The loss dropped the Badgers to 4-2, while the Bulldogs improved to 3-2. And it doesn’t get any easier this week for A-LP, as the Badgers have a challenging game coming up, hosting the undefeated Hamlin Chargers Friday night.
The Baltic Bulldogs didn’t play a perfect game Friday night, but five turnovers by Arlington-Lake Preston proved to be too much to overcome.
The game started with a good old-fashioned turnover on downs, but it wasn’t particularly costly, as a fourth-and-four pass by the Badgers fell incomplete at Baltic’s 34.
Baltic responded with a drive of its own, but it too ended with a turnover, as a fumble at the Badgers’ 28 was recovered by A-LP’s Seth Madsen at the 35.
And that set the theme for the night—turnovers.
But Arlington-Lake Preston did manage to avoid the plague on its next possession. Tate Larsen ran for 11 to near midfield, then quarterback Jasper Denison ran for 15 and again for 13 to move the ball to Baltic’s 25.
Mason Bunker went for eight on second down for a first down at the 15, but an illegal motion penalty took it back to the 20 on the next play. Still, two plays later, Larsen took it in from the 12, putting A-LP on the board first.
Bunker ran right for the two-point conversion, and with 2:40 left in the first, the Badgers were up 8-0.
Baltic’s next possession ended with a punt to A-LP’s 18, but as the second quarter began, the Badgers were on the move, after a 27-yard run by Bunker.
Larsen converted on a critical fourth-and-one at Baltic’s 45, and three plays later, A/LP was knocking at the door, with a first down at the 22. But a snap went awry, Baltic recovered, and the scoring threat was stopped.
The Bulldogs again couldn’t complete the drive, despite hitting a 49-yard pass, as penalties moved the ball back to midfield. Still, Baltic flipped the field, as A- LP began its next possession at its own 16.
Again the Badgers moved the ball effectively, but a fourth-and-four came up a yard short, with Baltic taking over on downs at their own 46. This time, the Bulldogs were held to a three-and-out, punting back to theBadgers at their own 13.
Clinging to an 8-0 lead late in the first half, the next play blew up for the Badgers, as a first-down pass was picked off and returned to the 21. Three plays later, Baltic quarterback Noah Swartwout took it in from the five.
That made it 8-6 with 59 seconds left in the half, where it stayed after Jon Tawzer sacked the Baltic quarterback on the two-point conversion.
The third quarter began with the ball in the Bulldogs' possession at their own 47. The drive took just two plays, capped by a 38-yard touchdown pass from Swartwout to Alex Haagenson.
Swartwout took in the two on the run, and just 52 seconds into the second half, the Bulldogs had taken a 14-8 lead.
But the Badgers kept their cool, mounting a long drive from their own 34, keyed by four runs totaling 49 yards by Larsen. That set the Badgers up with a first-and-10 at Baltic’s 15.
A six-yard keeper on third down made it first-and-goal at the four, but an offensive facemask pushed the ball back to the 13, and on the ensuing play, an A-LP fumble was recovered by the Bulldogs at their own two.
The Badgers seemed to briefly reclaim their lost momentum on Baltic’s first down, as Tawzer sacked the quarterback for a safety, closing the gap to 14-10 with 6:57 left in the third. The ensuing punt gave the Badgers good field position, starting at their own 42.
Once again, A-LP drove the ball, with a 10-play drive capped by a big nine-yard, fourth-and-seven catch by Bunker to set the Badgers up with a first-and-goal at Baltic’s six.
And again, the drive blew up, with a holding penalty taking the ball backwards, and the Badgers turning it over on downs at the 12 to end the third quarter.
The final quarter started well for the home team, forcing a three-and-out, then getting the ball back at Baltic’s 39 after a short punt.
And once more, the Badgers had a first-and-goal, this time at the Bulldogs’ 10. But a motion penalty cost A-LP five yards, and on a fourth-and-goal at the nine, Denison was intercepted at the eight.
The return turned into a footrace, and the Bulldogs won, taking it 92 yards for the touchdown. Baltic added the two on a run, and with just under six minutes left, claimed a 22-10 lead.
It got a little worse two plays later, as the Bulldogs picked off another one, returning the ball to A-LP’s 30. But on third down, the Badgers returned the favor, with Denison recovering a Baltic fumble, rumbling 20 yards down the right sideline, then having the presence of mind while being tackled to pitch back to Larsen, trailing the play.
Larsen took it the rest of the way, capping a 65-yard fumble return, and with 3:40 left, the Badgers were back in it, down 22-16. The two-point pass was stopped short.
With no timeouts left, the Badgers needed a stop and got it on a three-and-out, but smart clock management allowed the Bulldogs to still run off over two minutes. The punt pushed A/LP back to its 35, taking over with 1:18 left.
But there was to be no happy ending for the Badgers. Three straight passes fell incomplete, and on fourth down Denison’s desperation pass was knocked down by Swartwout, effectively ending the game.
The Badgers won the statbook, if not the game. Arlington-Lake Preston ran 49 times for 288 yards, and Denison completed six of 23 passes for 75 yards. Baltic ran 23 times for 89 yards, and Swartwout completed five of eight passes for 146 yards.
That left the Badgers with a 363-235 offensive edge, and a 72-31 advantage in plays from scrimmage. Baltic punted six times, averaging 30 yards per punt, and A/LP never punted.
But A-LP saw three passes intercepted and two fumbles recovered by the Bulldogs, stopping five drives.
A-LP 8 0 2 8 16
Baltic 0 6 8 8 22
While the Badgers host Hamlin Friday, the 3-2 Bulldogs host 2-4 Parker.