Baker falls to Graceland, 44-27
At one point Saturday, the Baker University football team had the No. 22-ranked Graceland Yellowjackets down 20-15. But, the lead didn't last long and Graceland rallied for a 44-27 victory.
BU coach Mike Grossner thought his Wildcats had a chance early to put the Yellowjackets in a hole, but it didn't happen and that played into the game's final outcome.
"I thought in the first half we had a chance to go up a couple of scores if we hit some big plays and we didn't execute on our big plays," Grossner said. "We took the lead going into the fourth quarter against a good football team and they made more plays."
Baker went up 6-0 in the first quarter on a 1-yard run by standout senior tailback John Reeves. But, Graceland blocked the extra-point attempt and returned it 98 yards for two points. Graceland added two first-quarter touchdowns to turn what should have been a 7-0 Baker advantage into a 15-6 Yellowjacket margin.
The Wildcats put up another first-half touchdown on a 10-yard scoring strike from junior quarterback Brian Sheppard to junior wide receiver Ryan Pitts. That made it 15-13 at halftime.
Baker took its lead early in the third quarter after a 60-yard drive. This time Sheppard hit senior Keenan Ganz with the 10-yard touchdown pass. The kick put BU up 20-15.
From there, it was pretty much all Graceland. The Yellowjackets scored 22 unanswered points to go ahead for good at 37-20. Baker pulled within 10 points in the fourth quarter on Sheppard's third 10-yard scoring pass of the day, this one to senior Gerrad Speer.
An onside kick attempt by the Wildcats didn't work and Graceland tacked on another touchdown for the final 44-27 margin.
"We only turned the ball over once, which says something good about our football team, but it was at an inopportune time in the fourth quarter," said Grossner.
Baker fell to 4-5 in Heart of America Athletic Conference play while Graceland improved to 7-2. The Wildcats close out the season Saturday on the road against arch-rival William Jewell. Game time in Liberty, Mo., is 1:30 p.m.
"It's going to be a tough football game," he said of Saturday's matchup. "They run the ball well. They're big. We're going to have to figure some way to score some points on offense and stop the run on defense.
"It would be a step in the right direction," Grossner said of a win to even Baker's record at 5-5. "I think we're playing better football, the scoreboard just isn't showing it."