Baker falls hard to MidAmerica
A host of factors conspired against the Baker University Wildcats Saturday as they fell 61-28 to No. 12-ranked MidAmerica Nazarene in Heart of America Athletic Conference play.
In the first half, it was an air show put on by MidAmerica that did most of the damage as the Pioneers passed for 425 yards and 36 second-quarter points. In the second half, turnovers became the plague for Baker.
"They are a good football team and in the first half they threw the ball all over the field and we didn't make plays," said first-year Baker coach Mike Grossner. "We got in a shoot out and were actually still in it in the third quarter.
"We were within 42-28 at one point and we started turning the ball over," said Grossner. "If you turn the ball over like that on the road, you're going to lose."
By the time it was over, Baker had lost three fumbles and two interceptions. MidAmerica used one of the fumbles for a 25-yard touchdown return as the Pioneers continued to pull away.
The loss overshadowed a big game for standout Baker senior tailback John Reeves, a 5-11, 215-pound All-American from Palestine, Texas. On Baker's first play, Reeves broke free for an 86-yard touchdown run. Midway through the second quarter, he hauled in a 70-yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback Brian Sheppard. Reeves also scored on a one-yard run in the second frame and ended the game with 136 yards on 23 carries.
"He had two big plays with the opening run of 86 yards and then we threw it to him fro the 70-yard score," he said.
But, that was about it for highlights from the game as Baker fell to 2-2 overall and in HAAC play. MidAmerica improved to 3-1 and 2-1.
The Pioneers outgained Baker 558 to 354 in total yards. MidAmerica wound up with 467 yards through the air and 91 on the ground. The Wildcats had 133 yards rushing and 221 yards passing. Sheppard ended up 15 of 29 for all 221 yards and the two interceptions. The leading receiver was Ryan Pitts with seven catches for 61 yards.
Baker will put that game away and concentrate on Saturday's home game against Avila. It will be homecoming for the Wildcats with a 2 p.m. kickoff at Liston Stadium.
"We learned a lesson," said Grossner. "Avila is a good football team and have had two weeks to prepare, so I'm sure they'll have some tricks up their sleeve.
"We've got to face a lot different scheme, going from defending the pass to defending the option," he said. "We've played well at home and we've just got to get prepared and get another home win."