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Baker sets Yuma High touchdown record
JC Baker the Touchdown Maker lived up to his nickname Friday night.
The Yuma High senior running back scored three times to set a Yuma High record with 36 in his career as the
Criminals won another shootout against Lake Havasu, coming away with a 48-31 win over the Knights at Doan Field in the 5A Gila Valley Region opener for both teams.
"It's probably the biggest thing so far in my career," Baker said. "I didn't even expect it to get a record, so I'm pretty excited for my team. They've helped me out through the years. I'm just happy to get it for them."
Baker racked up nearly 250 total yards in the game - 86 rushing - and had a fourth-quarter kick return for an 84-yard touchdown that turned a 34-31 Criminal lead into a two-score game. His half-brother, Travon Clark, had 160 yards rushing to lead all players.
After the Baker score, the Knights (3-3, 0-1 region) looked poised to score their third touchdown of the fourth quarter after entering the final frame down 18. But David Chavoya, playing middle linebacker instead of strong safety, stripped quarterback Doug Greene of the ball to give the Criminals (3-3, 1-0) the ball on the Havasu 39-yard line.
Four plays later, Baker ran in his third and final touchdown of the night to secure the win.
"I've been waiting for David to do that. He did that three or four times last year," Yuma High coach Tom Fox said. "He's been telling me all year he'll make plays, and he made a big one tonight."
The teams met in the season opener, with the Criminals holding on at Lake Havasu for a 50-45 win.
Fox said he thought the defense improved from the last time around, although Yuma still gave up 371 yards to the Knights.
"We still gave up 31 points, but at the same time those 31 points, they had a short field on a couple of them," Fox said. "We gave them a turnover, and they didn't have to go far with it. It was 14 points less. We were looking to do a little better than that, but it's a tremendous defensive effort on our part."
Havasu scored first on a 38-yard run by Max Delia, who was one of three Knights with at least 50 rushing yards - Blake Garcia had 60 and Greene ran the option efficiently to finish with 104.
Yuma went three-and-out, but Marquan Williams - who along with fellow defensive end Mike Walter were difference makers on defense according to Fox - recovered a fumble on the first Havasu play, leading to a touchdown from Clark and a two-point conversion for a Yuma lead.
Another Delia run put Havasu up 13-8 early in the second, but Yuma High quarterback Donte Jackson - who passed for 105 yards and a score and ran for 62, and also had four tackles for loss and two sacks on defense - had his only rushing touchdown of the night, a six-yard scamper. Late in the quarter, a Havasu field put the Knights up 16-14.
But Yuma drove the ball downfield in less than a minute, capped by a Jackson pass to Andrew Herrarte that gave the Criminals a 20-16 lead at the half.
Yuma started the third with the ball and benefited from a double Havasu penalty on the first play, resulting in 30 yards. It took Baker four runs to go the final 23 yards for the score and a 26-16 lead. That was his 34th career score, breaking the old mark.
The Crims followed that drive with a goal-line stand. Havasu started first-and-goal at the 3, but Jackson started by stuffing Delia for a loss. Greene ran a bootleg that brought the ball to the 2, but Juan Chavez stuffed Greene at the 4, then a pass attempt failed on fourth.
The Criminals took a 34-16 lead into the fourth thanks to a 96-yard drive that included two third-down conversions and ended with a Clark run.