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By RYAN BUTLER
The defense for the Chiefland High School varsity team hasn’t faced many teams that throw as often as Baldwin. They have faced no one with a quarterback like Jordan Mullis.
Led by its senior quarterback, Baldwin (4-5, 1-3 in district 1A-7) won a shoot-out over Chiefland 54-42 in both team’s district finale. While the ground game for Chiefland (5-4, 0-4) put together one of its most impressive performances on the season, the defense wasn’t able to stop the visiting Indians’ spread attack, particularly the man leading it.
Mullis finished 15 of 25 for 210 yards and four touchdowns against CHS. He also chipped in 26 yards on the ground, averaging over five yards per attempt.
Chiefland was able to snuff out other pass-happy teams like P.K. Yonge and Williston earlier this season. As the season schedule hasn’t gotten harder, Chiefland hasn’t been able to match up with their opponents after a 4-1 start. If it’s any consolation for the slumping Indians, none of those teams had a quarterback with the skills of Mullis.
The senior quarterback had plenty of help from his receivers. Kevin James, Matthew Gunter and William Gomillion all caught at least four passes and a touchdown.
Even as late as the second half Chiefland still seemed lost against the receiving core. With secondary starter Deshawn Rolland knocked out of the game with a concussion, several back-ups were thrust into action. Facing a pivotal third-down play midway through the third quarter, Mullis recognized part-time outside linebacker Alphonso Timmons matched up in man coverage with James in the slot. He made the easy pass over Timmons for a first down which set up a touchdown on the next play and put his team up 46-28.
Timmons, however, continued his fantastic play on offense. Chiefland’s work-horse back picked up 150 yards on 26 bruising carries, spearheading an offense that racked up 391 total rushing yards.
But Chiefland’s second-highest offense output on the year wasn’t enough. Combined with five turnovers, four in the first half, the Indians weren’t able to keep up with its district rivals.
Chiefland started the game with another strong opening drive. James Corbin returned the opening kickoff to the Baldwin 47 and capped off the drive with a quarterback keeper. Jesus Hernandez continued one of the best kicking seasons in CHS history with another extra point, putting the Indians up 7-0 in the first four minutes of the game.
On the ensuing drive Baldwin went four-and-out, falling to convert on a fake punt pass. Chiefland fu-
bled on its next possession when Corbin’s pitch to Rolland went awry. James then finished off his team’s next drive with an easy touchdown off an option pitch from Mullis. The two-point conversion attempt was no good.
Timmons lead Chiefland down into Baldwin territory on the next drive before it was stalled by the Indians defense outside the redzone. Corbin’s fourth-down pass was fortuitously picked off at the one-yard line to end the series, putting BHS in terrible field position. Baldwin went three-and-out and its punt netted only 25 yards, setting Chiefland up in great field position. Timmons ended the drive with a ramming touchdown, putting Chiefland up 14-6 early in the second quarter after Hernandez’ second extra point.
Then James made the first of two incredible special teams plays on the night. He took Hernandez’ short kick-off on the next play for a touchdown that saw him run from nearly sideline to sideline. Emmanuel Johnson took a pitch from Mullis on the ensuing two-point conversion to tie the game up less than a minute after Chiefland had built an eight-point lead.
Josh Smith, who has split time with Corbin behind center for much of the season, came in at quarterback on the next possession. He fumbled on a third down run, setting up Baldwin with a short field. A few plays later Johnson took a handoff from Mullis and raced 25 yards for the go-ahead touchdown and the team’s first lead of the game.
After Ty Robinson was stuffed short on the two-point conversion attempt, Chiefland’s offense put together another scoring drive. Keith Smith, a slightly bigger version of Timmons with a similar rushing style, knocked home a touchdown with four minutes left. Hernandez gave the Indians the lead.
It wouldn’t last long. Mullis took over the game, picking apart Chiefland’s secondary, leading a scoring drive that ended on a screen pass to James and took less than a minute off the clock. He added a two-point conversion on a keeper play and put his team up 28-21.
When Timmons fumbled on the very next offensive play, Mullis engineered a touchdown drive that took even less time than the first, throwing to Gunter for another score.
After CHS went three-and-out on the next series, James made his better of the two excellent special teams plays, back-tracking on a booming punt that balanced over his head and zig-zaged through the Indians punt unit for another touchdown. Like the team’s last touchdown, this score was also unable to convert on the two-point attempt. But in the course of three minutes of game time, Baldwin had turned a one-point deficit into a 40-21 lead.
But the home team Indians weren’t done. Hernandez’s onside kick on the second-half kickoff was recovered by Chiefland. Corbin and the running game began a long drive that ended with another smash from Smith into the endzone and 40-28 ball game.
Mullis wasn’t about to be outdone. His clutch third down pass over Timmons set up another beautiful pass to Gomillion for another passing score. A quick pass to James put another tow points on the board after the conversion and gave his team a 48-28 lead.
Little-used sophomore G.G. McClendon took advantage of Rolland’s injury, making three spin moves during an incredible kickoff-return touchdown on the very next play. Chiefland regained some semblance of momentum but Mullis again didn’t let his opponents take control. He hit Gunter with his final touchdown pass of the game and gave his team enough breathing room with a 54-35 lead near the end of the third quarter.
Chiefland responded with a rare pass on its next drive. It got the Indians off guard and allowed Shaquille Patterson to race in for another Chiefland touchdown. After CHS stopped Baldwin for the first time since the first quarter, Timmons fumbled at the end of a long drive, effectively ending Chiefland’s last chance to win. Chiefland got another stop and another opportunity but Patterson’s half-back pass was dropped by a wide-open McClendon. Had he scored it would have still been too little too late, as Baldwin’s running game picked up the final few first downs necessary to run out the clock.