There were a lot of positives in Baylor's 58-19 victory over Brainerd at Heywood Stadium Friday night, but Red Raider coach Phil Massey was more concerned about some of the negatives that reared their ugly heads.
Baylor was never seriously challenged as they scored two touchdowns in the first three minutes and the difference was 17-0 when the first quarter ended.
The Red Raider offense kept clicking as they added 20 second-quarter points and the margin was 37-12 at intermission.
It never got any closer.
"We got all of our players in the game, but my hat's off to Brainerd because they fought hard the entire game," Massey said at midfield after his team had improved to 3-1.
"It was still a football game at the half, but we have got to start faster. We had several unnecessary penalties and we had some silly mistakes that will cost us in a close game. We got in a rut on offense at times with at least four dropped passes, including two in the end zone.
"But I'm proud of our young guys as they work hard and compete for playing time. We were able to use four quarterbacks and five running backs, so it was good that those guys got some game experience tonight," Massey added.
Senior George Porter was the leading rusher for Baylor as he gained 117 yards on 15 carries. His only carry in the second half was a three-yard loss, but he had touchdown runs of 10, 14 and 12 yards as Baylor built a comfortable lead in a hurry in the first half.
The Red Raiders finished with 505 total yards, including 303 on the ground and 202 through the air.
Starting quarterback Nick Tiano, who got Baylor on the board for the first time with just 62 seconds elapsed on a 10-yard run, completed eight of 14 passes for 177 yards and TDs of 23 yards to Ian Jump and 42 yards to Gage Upshaw.
Upshaw was Baylor leading receiver with 83 yards on three grabs while Chandler Gouger also had three receptions for 71 yards. But referring to Massey's post-game comments, both had dropped passes in the end zone on throws that hit them in the numbers.
Brainerd had more success passing the football in the first half as Sam Caffey completed nine of 13 attempts for 142 yards. The Panthers were limited to 47 yards through the air in the second half as Caffey finished with 17 completions for 189 yards.
Junior Kaylen Stewart had six catches for 70 yards while sophomore LaTony Word had five snags for 78 yards, including a beautiful 51-yarder for a touchdown in the first half . Stewart also had a long of 28 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter with 8.6 seconds remaining.
Brainerd coach Brian Gwyn certainly doesn't like losing, but he was somewhat upbeat in his post-game comments.
"We didn't quit and that's the most important thing," the first-year coach began.
"I think we took a step back from last week, but we've got to stop making all of those mental errors. We'll go back and look at films and try to correct those mistakes," he added.
Caffey was the leading rusher for Brainerd with 36 yards on 15 attempts. Marcus McMillan finished with 21 yards on eight carries, including a TD from the 1 with 6:31 to play.
Rafael Gaglianone converted five of six extra point kicks while Caffey blocked one in the first half. The stout senior also had a 43-yard field goal in the first half and had another from 55 yards bounce off the upright in the second half.
While Porter set the pace for the Baylor ground game, freshman Kalvin Watson had 71 yards on five carries while sophomore Adrian Harris had 65 yards, also on five attempts.
Baylor finished with a 21-14 advantage in first downs.
Baylor will be at home again next week for a game with region foe Pope John Paul II while Brainerd will be looking for its first win at home against district opponent East Ridge.
Brainerd 0 12 0 7 -- 19
Baylor 17 20 14 7 -- 58
Bay -- Nick Tiano 10 run (Rafael Gaglianone kick), 10:58 left in first;
Bay -- George Porter 10 run (Gaglianone kick), 9:02 left in first;
Bay -- Gaglianone 43 field goal, 3:52 left in first;
Bay -- Porter 14 run (kick blocked), 10:57 left in second;
Brain -- LaTony Word 51 pass from Sam Caffey (pass failed), 8:23 left in second;
Bay -- Ian Jump 23 pass from Tiano (Gaglianone kick), 6:13 left in second;
Bay -- Porter 12 run (Gaglianone kick), 2:11 left in second;
Brain -- Kaylen Stewart 28 pass from Caffey (pass failed), :08 left in second;
Bay -- Gage Upshaw 42 pass from Tiano (Gaglianone kick), 10:27 left in third;
Bay -- Adrian Harris 7 run (Colin Brewer kick), 2:01 left in third;
Brain -- Marcus McMillan 1 run (Cordaro Cummings kick), 6:31 left in fourth;
Bay -- Kalvin Watson 7 run (Brewer kick), 5:35 left in fourth.
(Email John Hunt at firstname.lastname@example.org)