BU loses bowl, but will bounce back
Baker University lost its opener 21-14 in overtime to Peru (Neb.) State in the Wheat Bowl Saturday in Ellinwood. But, BU head coach John Frangoulis believes it will pay off in the long run.
Baker dominated the first half and had a 14-0 lead. But, Peru State answered with 14 second-half points and added a touchdown in overtime to seal the victory Saturday. Frangoulis believes his BU Wildcats will learn a lesson from the game as they head into Heart of America Athletic Conference action at 7 p.m. Saturday at home at Liston Stadium against Evangel.
"It was the tale of two halves," Frangoulis said of the Wheat Bowl game. "This group has to learn how to put people away. They will understand what I'm talking about. They will get the message.
"We had them and let them get away," he said. "Hopefully, we learned. Now (in HAAC play) it counts."
Baker jumped ahead early in the game with a first-quarter touchdown pass from Martin Updike to Ryan Costello that covered 20 yards. Baker's renowned defense got into the act in the second quarter when defensive back Matt Triplett stepped in front of a Peru State pass for an interception and returned it 40 yards for a score. Baldwin native Bryan Williams converted both extra point kicks for a 14-0 lead.
Unfortunately for BU, it was all down hill from there.
"Obviously they made some adjustments on offense at half time and took advantage of some things," said Frangoulis. "We had some turnovers and they took advantage of that."
First of all, Peru State went 65 yards in 14 plays on the opening series of the second half. It was all on running plays and the Nebraska squad capped it with a one-yard run for the touchdown. Then Baker helped out with a series of turnovers, fumbling on two of its next three possessions. Peru State took advantage of the last one with an 11-yard scoring pass that tied the game with 11 minutes left.
That's the way regulation ended a 14-14 tie. Peru State opened the overtime with a 20-yard scoring pass to go up 21-14. Baker had the chance to tie, but after an eight-yard gain by running back Terrance Spencer, there wasn't anything left. Updike was sacked, threw an incompletion and was sacked again on fourth down to end the game.
Despite the loss, there were positives, Frangoulis said. Most of all, there was experience gained.
"There were a lot of good things," he said. "We had three new offensive linemen. I wasn't pleased with their performance, but I understand it. We'll only get better.
"This is early in the year and your defense is going to be ahead of your offense," said Frangoulis. "I was pleased with the first half performance, especially on defense. We replaced seven starters from a year ago, two that were All-Americans. I'm pleased with where we're at."
The pre-season bowl game also gave the Wildcats a leg up in conference play. Now they'll play the conference opener at home Saturday with the first-game jitters out of the way.
"There were two reasons we took that game," he said of the Wheat Bowl. "No. 1, anytime you get an opportunity to play, you take it. No. 2, when you can get a game before conference play opens, you'd better do it. Win, lose or draw, I'd do it again."
Frangoulis isn't sure what to expect out of Saturday's opponent.
"It will be their first ball game," he said. "We've been looking at the tapes from last year, but you never know. They lost some people from last year's team. They've gone more to a balanced game."
But the biggest advantage that he sees from the pre-season bowl game and heading into conference play is one of experience.
"In all the years I've coached, I've always seen the biggest improvement a team makes is from the first game to the second game," said Frangoulis.
That puts the Wildcats up a game.