Baker falls to MANU
Baker University gave No. 9-ranked and unbeaten MidAmerica Nazarene a battle Saturday on Liston Stadium's soggy field, but in the end it was another case of falling to big plays as the Wildcats fell 28-14.
"It wasn't a lack of effort, it's never been that," said Baker coach John Frangoulis. "That's a fine football team and when we lined up against them, we gave them the best game we could."
It was a quick start, too, as MANU's Greg Simpson broke free for an 83-yard touchdown run on the Pioneer's first play from scrimmage.
"That's the second week in a row where a team has scored on the first play," said Frangoulis. "Big plays have been the burr in this team's backside all season."
Baker answered with a three-play, 42-yard drive that was capped by Gerrad Speer's four-yard touchdown run. After Nate Tubach added the kick, it was tied 7-7 with 5:19 left.
MidAmerica went back to the big play, this time with the pass, for a drive that Simpson finished off with a one-yard run to put the Pioneers up 14-7 at halftime. Baker had a drive going to end the half, but it ended with a fumble.
The Pioneers picked right back up in the second half, using the airways to set up a pair of touchdowns. Quarterback John Booth hit Nate Schmidt with a 17-yard scoring strike midway through the third quarter and Booth found Danny Harmon with a 14-yard TD pass just into the fourth frame to give MANU a 28-7 lead.
MidAmerica didn't give up on the pass, but it burned the Pioneers. Baker's Oliver Kurtz intercepted a pass and returned it five yards for the Wildcat's other score with nine minutes left in the game.
The Pioneers racked up 524 total yards, with 313 coming on the ground and 211 through the air. Baker only had 184 total yards, 54 rushing and 130 passing. The muddy conditions figured in, too.
"I do think the field helped us a little bit more than them, but it slowed both teams," said Frangoulis. "And on a dry field the game could have had a different story, because of their tremendous speed. But we would have been better on offense, too."
Baker was playing without starting tailback Ramon Barber, who was suspended for undisclosed reasons. Justin Cobb led Baker with 22 rushing yards on 13 carries. Martin Updike added 16 rushing yards to go along with 130 passing yards on a 20-for-33 day. He was intercepted twice. Alpha Iscandari had six catches for 44 yards and Keenan Ganz had five catches for 51 yards.
Defensively, Baker was paced by Kurtz, who had 12 tackles (eight unassisted, two for losses) to go along with his touchdown interception return. Karl Barron had 11 tackles (eight solo), Matt Tripplett had 10 (nine solo) and Brett Wahlgreen had 10 (four solo). Karl Zubeck also had an interception and Mike Fuino recovered a fumble.
The loss dropped Baker's record to 3-5 overall and 3-4 in Heart of America Athletic Conference play. MANU improved to 7-0 overall and in the HAAC.
Next up for the Wildcats is Missouri Valley at 2 p.m. Saturday in Marshall, Mo. The home finale for Baker will be Nov. 9 against Central Methodist in a 1:30 p.m. start at Liston Stadium.