Archive for Thursday, October 21, 2004

Baker ends road losing skid

October 21, 2004

It may not have been particularly pretty, but Baker University's football team snapped its losing skid on the road with a 19-15 win over Culver-Stockton Saturday in Canton, Mo.

"We finally broke the trend, which was nice," said Baker coach Mike Grossner about his team's first road win of the season which improved the Wildcats' record to 4-2 on the year. "We're playing better as a football team, but we're still making errors in week six that should have been taken care of in week one."

Baker had 17 penalties which cost 174 yards. The Wildcats had other troubles, too.

"I'm happy with getting the win ugly, but we have to get some things taken care of," Grossner said. "We turned the ball over twice in the red zone, we had a field goal blocked and an extra point blocked."

But, it was a win and it resulted in a big way from what Grossner is becoming known for in his first year as Baker coach -- gambling and trick plays. Baker trailed 15-12 in the fourth quarter when standout senior All-American tailback John Reeves threw a 34-yard touchdown pass to a wide-open Keenan Ganz. It was the second week in a row that Reeves has gone to the airways for a score, but this one was different from the standard pitch-out, stop and throw.

"We threw it behind line on a bubble screen," Grossner said. "Then he threw it down field. It's one we've been saving. We had been getting down there and not scoring, so we took a shot on first down after a punt."

The other scoring came in more traditional ways. Culver-Stockton had opened with a 7-0 lead in the first quarter, but junior transfer quarterback Brian Sheppard answered with a 20-yard touchdown pass to Ryan Pitts. Sheppard then put the Wildcats ahead in the third quarter with a five-yard scoring run.

But, that lead was only 12-7 because the lack of conversions. Culver-Stockton regained its lead early in the fourth frame, setting the stage for Reeves' heroics. He also had 155 yards rushing and 34 yards receiving. Sheppard threw for 178 yards and Ganz caught passes good for 72 of those yards.

Baker missed out on several scoring opportunities because of the miscues and Grossner plans to get that fixed this week.

"We've just got to eliminate the big mistakes," he said. "When we should be scoring, we're turning it over. Our kicking game is still a mystery. We've just got to get better in the kicking game and punching it in from the 15."

The Baker defense used a bend, but don't break style to hold Culver-Stockton to the two scores.

"We came up with two interceptions in the fourth quarter to stop drives," said Grossner. "The defense allowed their team to move the ball a lot, but defended the end zone well. I think our defense has done a good job of not giving up touchdowns."

Sophomore linebacker Bruce Rogers, senior defensive end Luke Thompson, freshman defensive end Elliott Gonzales and senior linebacker Blake Pearson all had eight tackles to lead the defense.

The Wildcats will have their work cut out for them this week when they play host to Lindenwood at 1:30 p.m. Saturday at Liston Stadium which will culminate Charlie Richard Day festivities (see related story).

"They are undefeated, ranked No. 8 in the country and are certainly deserving of that," he said. "They're sky high. They now know their destiny is to win out and go to the playoffs.

"With Charlie Richard Day, we should have a good football crowd out and we'll put a good product on the field," said Grossner. "I'm excited. I've been asked if it's a distraction. I think it's great. I think it helps us. If we can pull this off, get the win, we're right in the playoff hunt."

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