Baker manhandled by MANU
OLATHE There is a slim glimmer of hope for continuing the season, but it looks more likely that the Baker University Wildcats will be playing their season finale at home this weekend after falling hard to MidAmerica Nazarene here Saturday, 28-2.
"We just got our butts kicked in every aspect of the game," said Baker coach John Frangoulis. "We've been beat before, but we're not used to getting manhandled like this. That hasn't happened probably in three years. Everybody who made this trip stunk it up, starting with me and all the way down to the trainers."
Simply put, Baker couldn't muster any offense gaining just 14 yards on the ground, another 63 through the air, for a total of 77. Meanwhile, MidAmerica used a balanced attack to score four touchdowns on Baker's vaunted defense.
The Pioneers had 190 yards rushing and 146 through the air for a total of 290 yards. As for effectiveness, it was MANU's air game that scored the points. Quarterback Jeremy Males hit Marcus Child on a 1-yard scoring pass to open the scoring in the first quarter. Males then hit Henry Junious with a 2-yard scoring strike in the second quarter and followed that with an 11-yard touchdown to Junious just before halftime to put the Pioneers firmly in control at 21-0.
Males, who leads the Heart of America Athletic Conference in total offense, showed why by completing 16 of 27 for those 146 yards. He closed out the scoring in the third quarter with a 39-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Earls. Males also had 32 yards on the ground.
MANU's final touchdown came after Baker's only points of the day, but that was more of a gift from the Pioneers. Early in the game Baker blocked Michael Tiffany's first punt attempt of the day. Just into the third quarter Tiffany ran out of the end zone to avoid another block and gave Baker its two points.
Baker has blocked numerous kicks this season, but Saturday's punt block was a sign of the day. It gave the Wildcats a golden scoring opportunity, but they came up short when MidAmerica returned the favor by blocking Ryan Stewart's 26-yard field goal attempt.
That block, along with Baker's inability to run the ball, came down to one factor.
"We got beat up front and that's where the ball game starts and they took it to us," said Frangoulis.
The fiery head coach also wasn't buying into the "letdown" factor after the Wildcats had been beaten 13-10 the week before by Benedictine after securing what looked to be an insurmountable 10-0 lead.
"That's an excuse and I'm not going to make an excuse," he said. "Obviously we didn't coach them this week and we got our butts kicked. They were ready to play and we got beat by a better team."
It wasn't just the running game that wasn't there for BU. Terence Spencer gained 43 yards on 17 carries and that was the offensive bright spot. Quarterback Levi Schuck had a rough game throwing, hitting just five of 26 passes for 63 yards and an interception before being replaced by back up David Ewers, who went 0-for-4 with an interception.
"Levi wasn't on and David's very capable, that's why he's here," said Frangoulis. "He went in and executed some good things. He was a captain for us last year and the kids have tremendous respect for him."
Defensively, Baker had three stalwarts. Eric Moore had 17 tackles, nine solos, four for lost yards and an interception. Mickey Ramsey had 13 tackles, two for losses and an interception. Brock Bult chipped in with a dozen tackles.
Baker slipped to 7-2 overall and 6-2 in HAAC play. A win over MANU (9-1, 7-1) would have put Baker in second place in the league and in a good position for an NAIA playoff berth. That's gone now and the only hope left is a bowl game invitation.
"The kids knew the situation coming in and obviously we didn't take care of business," he said. "But that doesn't mean we haven't done some good things this year because we have. We need to come back and finish this thing on the right note."
Baker will play host to Missouri Valley Saturday at Liston Stadium. The regular season finale is set for 1:30 p.m.
"They've beaten us the last couple of years," said Frangoulis, "so we'd like to win and end at 8-2 which we haven't done for quite awhile and see what happens after that."
Then it will be up to national rankings and bowl invitations to see if the Wildcats will play another day.
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