Baumholder opens playoffs with a 'W'
Baumholder's Ben McDaniels tries to get by Sigonella's Eli Lagger Saturday night in the Buccaneer's 42-14 DODDS-Europe Division III victory over the Sigonella Jaguars.
Stars and Stripes
BAUMHOLDER, Germany – Going into Saturday’s Division III playoff, Baumholder’s B.J. Walker assumed his Bucs were the favorite. That’s exactly why the first-year head coach wanted to put Sigonella’s Jaguars out of contention in the first half.
The longer an underdog stays in the game, he said, “the more confident they get.”
Yet despite scoring 27 first-half points and blanking the Jaguars through the first two quarters, Sigonella continued to gut it out through the second half, scoring two second-half touchdowns and continuing to pound the Bucs on defense. But it was too little too late for the fourth-seeded Jaguars to overcome a Baumholder squad that has yet to feel the sting of defeat in Division III football.
Justifying their seed, the Bucs stomped to a 42-14 win Saturday over the Jaguars at home.
The Bucs romped out of the gate, scoring on their first possession on a 60-plus yard Ben McDaniels run on their first set of downs. After booting the extra point, McDaniels then scored two more touchdowns to put the Bucs up 19-0 before any other player put a single point on the board.
“I just do what the coach asks me,” said the senior, who earlier this season made the switch from receiver to quarterback. “He’s the boss, so I just do what he wants me to do, and I do what I can with the play.”
Isaak Giefer caught a McDaniels’ lob in the middle of the second quarter for a two-point conversion that put the Bucs up 21-0. After driving to the 5-yard line from deep in their own territory and with just over a minute remaining in the first half, McDaniels handed off twice to sophomore Deven Smith, who ran in for the first non-McDaniels TD of the game.
Sigonella, which opened its season with three losses before winning its last three games to clinch a playoff spot, had held the Bucs to just 29 points in their first meeting. That was Baumholder’s second-lowest point total of the entire season.
But the Bucs’ high-powered offense, which averaged just over 38 points a game during its five regular-season outings (not including a Menwith Hill forfeit that added a paltry two points to Baumholder’s season total), was in full force Saturday. Even after many of their starters subbed out, the Bucs went on to score two more touchdowns, an extra point and a field goal.
“Their pass plays – they completed probably 90 percent of their pass plays on fourth down,” said Jaguars junior Collin Gantt. “They just beat us through the air. We did not do well shutting down that quarterback.”
“To come back from what we did and get to the playoffs, it was good,” said Sigonella head coach Matt McKeon, who was smiling despite the loss after his team put up 14 second-half points to avoid a shutout.
While in warm-ups McKeon said his team had a shot at winning, he knew Baumholder expected the win. If his team had won, “We would have had to, like, run out of here, I think,” he said laughing after the loss.
“I wish we could have played a little better,” McKeon said, adding that Baumholder is “stacked with athletes.”
“Nobody’s stopped us this year, so far,” Walker said after the win.
But even with 42 points, McDaniels said it wasn’t an easy win for the Bucs.
Sigonella “didn’t give up, even when there was less than four minutes left in the fourth,” he said. “They played hard, they hit hard. It was just a great game.”