Missed opportunities hurt Wildcats late in overtime loss
After rallying back from 10 points down, the Baker University football team failed to close out a victory against Culver-Stockton College in Canton, Mo., Saturday.
Baker had two chances for a game-winning field goal and a holding call brought back a possible victory touchdown, but lost 20-17 in overtime.
"It was frustrating, because I felt like our kids dominated the second half and took control of the game," coach Mike Grossner said. "Then they had it taken away from them. We played well defensively and offensively. The only sour note on the day was that we didn't get the win."
With the game tied 17-17 late in the fourth quarter, Baker had a chance to move down the field and win the game. After marching to Culver's 32-yard line, Baker lined up for a 49-yard field goal.
However, a bad snap forced freshman Brad Fawcett to throw the ball away, sending the game to overtime.
Culver took the ball first in the extra period and kicked a 30-yard field goal to take a 20-17 lead.
"In overtime, we did what we had to do," Grossner said. "We held them to a field goal."
Baker took the ball next with a chance to tie the game with a field goal or win with a touchdown. A first down pass of nine yards set the Wildcats up well. Two consecutive runs for Baker were stuffed at the line of scrimmage, leaving Grossner with a tough choice on fourth-down-and-one to go.
"On fourth down, I decided we were going to go for it," Grossner said. "We ran a toss sweep and were close to walking into the end zone with it and a yellow hankie flew from the end zone. They called holding on our tight end, who never really engaged anybody on the play. We were knocked back to the 26 and had to kick a 42-yard field goal to tie it."
The game-tying field goal by senior Ryan Smith sailed left of the uprights, ending the game 20-17 in favor of Culver.
Baker fell behind early in the game as Culver scored 10 points in the second quarter to take a halftime lead of 10-0.
"We started off really slowly," Grossner said. "We chose the wind in the first quarter, but they took the opening drive and held the ball for nine-and-a-half minutes, but didn't score. Then we sputtered and lost the wind. At halftime, we counted that we had run 19 offensive plays. We hadn't really established anything yet."
Despite the slow beginning, Grossner still had faith his offense would awaken, because he saw positive signs in the final minutes of the first half.
"We knew that we were going to get the ball first to start the second half," Grossner said. "We felt like if we could score, we could get right back into it."
On its first drive of the second half, Baker converted a 37-yard field goal to get its first score of the game.
The Wildcats then fumbled in the red zone, giving the ball back to Culver. Two plays later, sophomore Eric Allen intercepted a pass and took the ball 40 yards for a touchdown.
Less than two minutes later, Baker regained the ball at Culver's 48-yard line from a fumble. Grossner called for a big pass play and it worked.
Freshman Mack Brown threw a bomb to sophomore James Hensley that resulted in a touchdown.
"Then we went for a quick score over the top to James," Grossner said. "We hit the 50-yard pass for a touchdown. That was the first play of the fourth quarter, so all of a sudden we are up 17-10 and in complete control."
Grossner said the interception return really set up the Wildcats to put the game away.
"That was a big play," Grossner said. "I thought it was huge, because we fumbled right before that. We were going into score and everybody was down after that. To respond right away with a turnover and a touchdown, then to create a turnover and score another touchdown is what good teams do. We felt really good at that point."
Baker's next offensive possession would drive down the field but suffer another holding penalty that slowed it up. Then Baker fumbled, giving Culver a chance to tie the game.
Culver-Stockton drove 68 yards and evened the game up with 3:48, before eventually winning the game in overtime.
Grossner has been pleased with his team's effort recently.
"I really like the way we've been playing the last couple of games as a team," Grossner said. "As long as our guys keep playing hard, good things will happen to them eventually. Hopefully, it is this week. We are playing hard, but we've just got to finish ball games."
Next up for Baker is Lindenwood University. The Wildcats will host the Lions at 1 p.m. Saturday at Liston Stadium.
"They are as athletic as anybody in our league," Grossner said. "They are a good opponent. It will be a tough battle and hopefully we can win."