published Saturday, August 25th, 2012

Baylor smothers Bears with fierce 'D'

Bradley Central's Jordan Sharp strips the ball from Baylor's Cal Pickel, forcing a turnover on the first drive of the game.  
Photo by Matt Fields-Johnson
Bradley Central's Jordan Sharp strips the ball from Baylor's Cal Pickel, forcing a turnover on the first drive of the game. Photo by Matt Fields-Johnson

Colton Jumper flashed the same type grin as a 10-year-old kid who just rode his first amusement-park roller coaster.

"We just had a lot of fun out there on the defensive side of the ball," said Baylor's senior linebacker, who finished with two sacks, an interception and a fumble recovery in the Red Raiders' 34-13 high school victory Friday night against visiting Bradley Central.

"I don't know the last time I said that, but we just went out and played hard and had a lot of fun out there," Jumper continued. "I didn't think we had a lot of enthusiasm early in the game last week, but tonight, from the first snap we were getting after them."

Jumper's assessment of Baylor's defensive effort also was a sinister warning for the remaining Red Raiders opponents.

On the Bears' first three plays, Baylor held them to minus yards twice and an interception by Russell Burton. The Red Raiders held Bradley's Logan Fetzner, who ran more than 200 yards in a win a week earlier, to four carries for minus-10 yards total.

Senior quarterback Bryce Copeland, while running for his life most of the night, was the Bears' only bright spot offensively with 82 rushing yards and a touchdown and 232 passing yards and another TD.

On Baylor's second possession of the game, the Red Raiders turned Burton's interception into an eight-play, 45-yard drive, capped by George Porter's 3-yard scoring run. And after forcing a turnover on the second play of Bradley's ensuing possession, Baylor covered the 27 yards in six plays with Houston Clements scoring from a yard out.

Baylor tacked on a 45-yard field goal by Rafael Gaglianone before halftime, which was the first of four for the junior.

As inexperienced quarterbacks Nick Tiano and Michael O'Connor continue to grow in the offense, Porter was again asked to carry much of the load. The speedy junior finished with 176 yards on 23 carries and had two TDs.

"I'm just blessed to be a part of this offense, with the way the line blocks right now," Porter said.

Aside from setting up Baylor's first two scores with turnovers, the defense also registered a safety early in the second half and held Bradley to 73 yards rushing.

"They're a dangerous team, so I was real pleased with the way our defense contained their running game," Baylor coach Phil Massey said. "We're taking baby steps on offense, with George doing a lot of the work, but our defense right now is really solid."

about Stephen Hargis...

Stephen has covered local sports in the tri-state area for more than 24 years, having been with the Times Free Press since its inception, and has been an assistant sports editor since 2005. Stephen is among the most decorated writers in the TFP’s newsroom, winning numerous state, regional and national writing awards, including seven in 2013 and a combined 12 in the last two years. He was named one of the top 10 sports writers ...

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