Baker ‘wins’ a pair
It's not very often that a football team wins two games in a week, one against an arch-rival, and returns to the ranks of the unbeaten. All that happened last week for the Baker University Wildcats.
Saturday Baker blanked arch-rival William Jewell 17-0 in a defensive struggle. Earlier in the week Baker learned that Graceland had self-reported the use of an ineligible player during its first three games, which included a victory over Baker. That game will be forfeited and suddenly Baker is once again undefeated with a 5-0 record.
"No, that doesn't happen very often," said coach John Frangoulis of the strange turn of events which restored the unbeaten record. "That is something that is unique. Of course the big win is the one over Jewell.
"I told the kids (about the forfeit) Friday and there were some controversial calls in that game and we should have won. I told the kids that if we would have gotten our butts kicked, I wouldn't want the forfeit," said Frangoulis. "It obviously excited our kids who were already excited to play Jewell."
Saturday's game with William Jewell featured a whole lot of Baker defense. The Wildcats held the Cardinals to 173 total yards, including just 39 yards on the ground. In fact, BU threw Jewell for more yards lost (41) than the Cards picked up.
But that wasn't all the defense by a long shot. Baker had a 10-0 lead in the fourth quarter, but William Jewell put on a drive that went to the 10-yard line. But Baker All-American defensive back Mark Emry, a 5-foot-10, 164-pound senior from Peculiar, Mo., intercepted a pass and returned it 70 yards. It was Emry's fifth interception of the season.
That set up a short drive by the Wildcats that culminated with a 1-yard run by senior quarterback Levi Schuck, a 6-1, 209-pounder from Peoria, Ariz. Brant Brittingham's extra-point kick put the final point on the 17-0 win.
Baker started the scoring in the first quarter when Schuck hit tight end Scott Rieger, a 6-5, 204-pound junior from Arnold, Mo., with a 15-yard pass. Brittingham added the kick and five minutes later capped another Baker drive with a 46-yard field goal for the 10-0 lead that stood until the fourth quarter.
But, it wasn't all defense for Baker. On the offensive side, a new Wildcat record was set by senior runningback Terence Spencer, a 6-0, 175-pounder from La Puente, Calif., who carried the ball 42 times to break Ed Lierz's old record of 38 set in 1987. Spencer gained 126 yards while setting the new mark. It was Spencer's second-straight 100-yard performance since returning from an elbow injury.
There could have been more points, too, if not for a dropped pass in the end zone and a couple of over throws.
"We could have scored more," he said. "It was a big win."
Leading the defensive charge was Dax Barker, a 5-10, 180-pound senior defensive back from Blue Springs, Mo., with five unassisted tackles. Eric Moore, a 6-0, 196-pound sophomore linebacker from Independence, Mo., led the sack brigade with a pair of quarterback drops for losses. Baker sacked the Jewell quarterback four times. Standout senior Carlos Grace, a 6-1, 270-pound defensive lineman from Houston, had five tackles (four solos) and a sack.
Baker now stands 5-0 overall and 4-0 in Heart of America Athletic Conference play. That's good for a tie for first place. The Wildcats are likely to return to the national rankings with the restored unbeaten mark. They had been ranked in the top 25 until the Graceland game.
BU will return to Liston Stadium Saturday for a conference game against Culver-Stockton. Game time is 1:30 p.m.