BAKER — It was a complete team effort for the Baker School football team Friday night as the Gators gave the home fans at Doug Griffith Memorial Stadium plenty to cheer about.
Baker's defense forced seven Holmes County turnovers. Richard Stroheker had three interceptions and T.J. Miller scored on a 15-yard interception return.
The Gator special teams came up with a touchdown in the first quarter when Dakota Campbell blocked a Blue Devil punt and Chase Holt scored from 20 yards out.
And, oh yes, the Gators played a little offense too as D.J. Thomas ran for 135 yards and three touchdowns on nine carries. Gator quarterback Jon Beck also threw a pair of touchdown passes as Baker rolled to a 55-6 win.
"I think the intensity of our play on the front on both sides of the ball kind of set the tone tonight," Gator coach Matt Brunson said. "Our offensive line did a great job and our fullback, Brandon Engler, did a great job of blocking.
"Our running game got going and then we completed some passes, which we were proud of. And then our defense started scoring."
The Gator offense ran just 31 plays, as most of the second half was played with a running clock, but still managed to gain 384 yards in offense.
The Blue Devils (0-3) came out trying to play spoiler. On its play from scrimmage Holmes County quarterback Justice Bice hit Brock Harris with a 42-yard pass to put the ball on the Baker 14. Two plays later Stroheker came up with his first interception of the night and returned it to the Baker 32-yard line.
Thomas had six of his nine carries on the opening drive and completed it with a 20-yard scoring run. Malcolm Griffith added the extra point and Baker was up 7-0 with 7:28 left in the first quarter.
The Gators (3-0) were just getting started.
Baker forced Holmes County to a three-and-out. Three plays later the Gators were back in the end zone.
Beck hit Josh Long with a 35-yard pass, Thomas run for seven and Beck hit Kodi Moen with a 13-yard TD pass.
Another three-and-out led to the blocked punt ands touchdown as the Gators scored for the third time in less than four-and-a-half minutes.
Stroheker's second interception of the night set up a 26-yard run touchdown run by Thomas with 1:56 still remaining in the first quarter.
The Gators had the ball and were driving as the first quarter ended. Beck scored less than 90 seconds into the second quarter to put Baker up 35-0.
Brunson then pulled his starters for the remainder of the first half.
HolmesCounty's lone score of the season came with 5:46 left in the half when Bice hit Cole Marell with a 58-yard touchdown pass.
The score was all the Blue Devils would have to cheer about all night.
Thomas scored from 42 yards out on his only carry of the second half on Baker's first play from scrimmage in the third quarter.
With 10:15 left in the third quarter Stroheker turned in his third interception of the game.
Stroheker said the three interceptions in a game were a first for him.
"My adrenlin was pumping and it was insane," he said. "It's an indescribable feeling. It just felt great."
The next play Beck hit Wilder Kersey with a 45-yard scoring strike.
Miller closed out the scoring with his interception return for a touchdown with 1:11 left in the third quarter.
Kersey had Baker's fifth interception with about five minutes left in the game as the Gator defensive starters celebrated on the sidelines.
"Creating turnovers defensively, now that was the key to the score," Brunson said. "We challenged our defense to play better than they did last week, and they did. They did a good job."
The Gators are off next week and will play at Rocky Bayou Christian on Sept. 27.
Randy Dickson is the Crestview News Bulletin’s sports editor. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org, tweet him @BigRandle, or call 682-6524.