FREEPORT — There would be no heartbreaking loss for the Baker School football team against District 1-1A rival Freeport on Friday.
Two years ago, the Bulldogs won on a field goal in overtime. Last year it was Freeport winning on a drive late in the fourth quarter.
But Friday belonged to Baker running back D.J. Thomas and the Gator Express as Baker traveled to Freeport for its District 1-1A opener.
Thomas ran for 221 yards and five touchdowns on just 12 carries as Baker pounded the Bulldogs 56-14.
Thomas had touchdown runs of four, 35, 56, 49 and 41 yards.
Richard Stroheker added a 3-yard scoring run, Kodi Moen a 65-yard touchdown reception from Jon Beck and Ben Crowson scored from a yard out.
“It’s feels amazing,” Thomas said. “All we’ve worked for came together on one big night. I can’t describe the feeling.
“I’ve got to give a shout to my linemen. They made those holes possible and everything.”
The Gator offensive line of Dakota Campbell, Dakota Blackburn, Bubba Ellis, Zach Way and Jake Rainey opened hole after hole for Thomas and the other Gator backs.
And although receivers Wilder Kersey, Kodi Nixon and Moen didn’t see many passes they contributed to the Baker’s ground attack with key blocks.
Moen did manage snag two Jon Beck passes for 104 yards that included the touchdown as the Gators showed they could throw the ball a little too.
“They were hitting us in the mouth on defense, but we always seem to get things going on offense,” Moen said. “We always give the ball to D.J. And we always have to give a shout out to our line.
“Once our line starts doing it we can start taking two steps back and put the ball up in the air and make big plays like we did tonight.”
The Gators (5-0, 1-0) ended the game 387 yards rushing on 43 carries to go along with the 104 yards through the air.
Thomas’ first two scores gave the Gators 14-0 lead as Malcolm Griffith connected on the first of his seven extra points.
Freeport (0-6, 0-1) got on the scoreboard with a 1:12 left in the first quarter when Dillon Bates hit Kyle Collinsworth with a 23-yard touchdown pass.
On Baker’s next play Thomas scored his third touchdown to quickly steal whatever momentum was momentarily in the Bulldog camp.
A 34-yard run by Skyler Gillies gave the Bulldogs a first-and-goal at the Baker 1-yard line to open the second quarter. Bates scored on the next play on a quarterback sneak and Matthew Blair added the extra point for the final Freeport score of the night.
Stroheker, Thomas and Moen scored for the Gators in the second quarter.
Thomas scored his last TD of the night on the first play of the third quarter and Crowson scored on the first play of the fourth quarter.
Freeport’s best drive of the second half was derailed when David Oglesby made a diving interception of a Bates’ pass.
Gator coach Matt Brunson was pleased with the way his team pulled together.
“Our guys have been working hard all year and they fought hard,” he said. “Tonight was kind of us taking a step in district play that we’ve needed to take last couple of years and these guys did a great job.
“I’m proud of their effort.”
Freeport coach Jim Anderson credited the Gators for a strong showing while finding the good in an ugly loss for his young team.
“Matt has done a fine job,” he said. “Baker is a really good team.
“We had a lot of positives tonight. I feel like that we are getting better. We are giving up some points, but we had fewer turnovers tonight than we’ve been having in the past and we had fewer penalties. We are just being positive and we are working to improve every day.”
Randy Dickson is the Crestview News Bulletin’s sports editor. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org, tweet him @BigRandle, or call 682-6524.