Baker bags first win
It was an away game that turned into a home game. But more than anything, it was the first win of the season for the Baker University Wildcats Saturday.
Baker topped Avila College 22-12 in Liston Stadium. The game was supposed to be played at Kansas City (Mo.) Rockhurst Stadium, but because of Friday's rain, Avila in its first year of football was booted from its "home." The decision was made around 3 p.m. Saturday to move the contest to Baldwin.
That made for a Saturday home doubleheader at Liston. Baldwin High School had to reschedule its Friday game against arch-rival Wellsville Saturday at 4:30 p.m. because of Friday's storm. BHS wrapped up a less-than-pretty 20-15 win over Wellsville at around 6 p.m.
Baker took the field at 7:30 p.m. What followed was another case of less-than-pretty football, but again the home team won. For the Wildcats, after two losses to open the season, it was big.
"A win is a win," said John Updike, Baker's sophomore quarterback who was responsible for all three BU touchdowns with two scoring passes and a 34-yard run for a score. "We've just got to turn it up a notch.
"Our defense always steps up," said Updike. "Now it's time for our offense to pick it up."
Thankfully, the Wildcat offense did. The defense was there again. Updike got the BU effort off on the right foot when he faked an option pitch to Terence Spencer in the first quarter and then took off down the middle of the field for his 34-yard touchdown scamper. It still wasn't pretty for the Wildcats as the extra-point kick failed.
Avila answered with a second-quarter field goal, but Baker came right back. This time it was Updike's arm that did the trick, hitting wide receiver Ryan Costello with a five-yard touchdown pass. This time place kicker Michael Brennan nailed the extra point to give BU a 13-3 halftime lead.
The second half opened with Avila driving and striking. Quarterback Malik Kincheloe found wide receiver Richard Cooper open for a 38-yard touchdown pass. Massimo Scaccia's extra point attempt was blocked, leaving the score at 13-9.
Baker answered quickly with a drive and Updike capped it with another scoring strike to Costello, this one covering 12 yards. Brennan again added the conversion kick to give Baker a 20-9 advantage.
The fourth quarter saw a 3-2 score, with Avila's Scaccia nailing a 47-yard field goal. Baker's points came on a safety by Eric Moore.
The victory moved BU's record to 1-2 on the season. While he wasn't overly pleased, Wildcat coach John Frangoulis was happy with the outcome.
"It wasn't pretty, but it doesn't matter. It was a win," said Frangoulis. "Obviously it was very important for us. We did some things better offensively. We executed better. We've had a lot of pressure put on the offense and they came around."
BU had 226 total yards, with 119 on the ground and 107 through the air. Spencer gained 73 yards on 30 carries and Updike had 58 yards on 15 carries. Updike was 7-for-21 through the air for another 107 yards.
The game had a strange twist to it because it was moved to Baker.
"We had our away jerseys on and they had their home jerseys," said Frangoulis. "It was bizarre."
It won't get any easier for Baker this week either. The Wildcats take on Culver-Stockton at 7 p.m. Saturday in Liston Stadium. Culver-Stockton is 2-0 and has been winning big.
"It's the best team we've played so far," he said. "They scored 70 points the last two weeks and have up only seven. We'll have to play well. They're an excellent football team. They're well coached and have a lot of talent."