Wildcats defense huge in upset victory
Baker University sophomore Micah Mason helped the Wildcat football team pick up an upset victory, the first win of the season, by scoring touchdowns on both offense and defense Saturday.
The Wildcats (1-5) defeated Missouri Valley College 45-24 in Marshall, Mo. Missouri Valley was ranked No. 17 in the nation before the game.
"It felt real good and we played well," Grossner said. "We made very few mistakes, which was the key to the victory. We had no turnovers and we took the ball away three times. We had three interceptions for touchdowns."
Mason was also happy to get that first win.
"That's the best game we've played all year," Mason said. "That was an all-out effort. We put it all together. Those few losses make that one win worth it, especially against a ranked team."
Mason stepped in as linebacker for the first time as a Wildcat because of injuries at that position and returned two interceptions for touchdowns. He also rushed for one touchdown on offense.
"It was time for him to step up as a team player and play a position he is really good at," Grossner said. "He has such great instincts. He's a real good tackler and runs well. We are going to use him as much as he can go."
Grossner also said it was fun to watch him play so well without much practice at the position.
"I thought it was unbelievable to watch," Grossner said. "For only doing it for one week of practice, he looked like he had been there four years. Micah likes to play offense; there is no doubt about it. He's a good running back, but he's a great linebacker. We're lucky to have him."
Mason said he was happy to play linebacker for Baker, because he loves helping the team in any way possible.
"My dad told me when I went to Baker they might be needing me at one place more than another," Mason said. "I have just taken that with me and done my best to help the team."
Baker started the game with a long drive that resulted in a field goal. After scoring a safety, sophomore quarterback Kendall Bradley threw a five-yard pass to senior Ryan Pitts to give Baker a 12-0 lead after the first quarter.
Missouri Valley added a field goal before Mason added two of his three touchdowns. His first was a one-yard run. Then he returned an interception 33 yards to give Baker a 25-3 halftime lead.
"We were up 25-3 at halftime, then we took the opening drive of the second half and went 70 yards for a touchdown to kind of ice it," Grossner said.
In the second half, the teams went back and forth scoring touchdowns. Pitts caught a three-yard pass from Bradley to give Baker a 31-3 lead early in the third quarter.
Later in the quarter, Mason intercepted his second pass and brought it back 47 yards for another touchdown. Freshman CJ Boram also returned an interception for a touchdown for Baker, but his totaled 105 yards.
Baker's defense shut down Missouri Valley for much of the game, but allowed two long touchdown drives late in the game.
"They had a couple long drives in the fourth quarter, which hurt us defensively," Grossner said. "That is where they got most of their yards."
Baker only totaled 254 yards on offense, but it avoided turnovers for the first time all season.
"The big key offensively is not turning the ball over, which we didn't," Grossner said. "The output was the lowest we have had all year from a yardage standpoint. But we were successful in putting together drives and we were efficient in scoring."
Mason also agreed about the offense finally being able to finish drives.
"We have trouble putting points on the board at the end of drives," Mason said. "We did that Saturday and we scored touchdowns in the red zone."
Grossner said the victory meant a lot to the team, especially since it's had a few games that it could have won.
"We've had a tough year as far as wins and losses," Grossner said. "I think we have played well at times, but we just haven't put a whole game together. We finally did that against a great opponent, and we get a great chance to do it again this weekend."
The Wildcats host Mid America Nazarene University at 6 p.m. Saturday at Liston Stadium. MANU is ranked No. 6 in the country with a record of 4-1.