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Bells beats Edgewood to advance

By Rick Bailey
For the Herald Democrat
Bells' Bo Baker runs into the open field during the Panthers' bi-district win over Edgewood at A&M-Commerce.

COMMERCE — Under the bright lights at Ernest Hawkins Field at Memorial Stadium the “Fabulous Baker Boys” provided the one-two punch the Bells Panthers needed to get a 38-12 win over Edgewood in the Class 3A Division II Region II bi-district round of the playoffs.

The Baker duo accounted for 321 of the 509 rushing yards the Panthers amassed. Sophomore Brock Baker got 166 yards on 17 carries, including two touchdowns, and junior Bo Baker added 155 yards and a score on 15 carries.

“I thought we played a great game overall," Bells head coach Dale West said. "Our offensive line, Hogan Harris, Tanner Hayes, Landon Nelson, Quinton Douglas, Carl Besario, and Jackson Harlan really took the game over on offense.”

Bells (9-2) will now face Eastland, a 56-21 winner over Callisburg, in the area round next week at Boyd.

“Eastland is a really good football team and we’re excited for the challenge,” West said.

After the first quarter ended in a scoreless tie, Bells got things going when Brock Baker scampered in from five yards out for the Panthers' first touchdown. The run capped a 14-play, 86-yard drive that started after Tanner Carter intercepted Hayden Wilcoxson, who pressured into the throw by Cooper Smith.

On the next series the stingy Bells defense forced an Edgewood punt after a three and out. The Panthers put together another 14-play drive that was capped by a two-yard touchdown run by Grady Waldrip.

Edgewood (6-5) got the ball with 1:36 left in the half and went to work through the air, but was forced to punt again.

“Our defense never allowed them to get any momentum running the ball, anchored by our defensive line Cooper Smith, Drake Stephens, and Hank Weaver, and our secondary went to work," West said. "Nice overall team win. Super proud of the kids and their fight.”

It took just one play for Bells to get back into scoring range when Bo Baker popped off a 52-yard run. After a couple of shots into the end zone by quarterback Blake Rolen, Edgewood was called for pass interference as the half expired. Given an extra untimed down, the Panthers lined up for a 24-yard field goal from Keaton High and took a 17-0 lead at intermission.

Bells didn’t take long to add to the lead in the second half behind Bo Baker and Lane Kendrick, who finished with 14 carries for 97 yards. Bo Baker punched it in from four yards out and it was a 24-0 advantage.

Using the dual-threat nature of Wilcoxson, the Bulldogs got their first points of the night when he carried the ball in from one yard out but the two-point conversion was unsuccessful and the Panthers carries the 24-6 margin into the fourth quarter.

On the third play of the final quarter, Brock Baker took the ball 44 yards for the touchdown. The Panther once again forced Edgewood to punt after a three-and-out, but Wilcoxson boomed a 49-yard punt down to the Bells' 16-yard line.

The final offensive push by the Panthers was an 84-yard, six-play drive that featured a 55-yard Brock Baker run. Kendrick carried the final 13 yards for the final score of the night.

Edgewood answered on a nine-play, 68-yard drive which was capped by Wilcoxson scrambling for 13 yards to reach the end zone.

Wilcoxson provided the majority of Edgewood’s offense with 83 yards on 17 carries and 56 yards passing, completing just 9-of-17 throws. Taylor Turner added 10 carries for 46 yards.

Bi-district

Class 3A Division II Region II

Bells                          38

Edgewood                12