Archive for Thursday, September 28, 2006

Wildcats shut out at home by Evangel

September 28, 2006

Offensive woes hurt the Baker University football team in its second straight home loss Saturday.

The Wildcats (2-2) mustered only 111 yards of offense in their 24-0 defeat to Evangel University (2-2).

"We laid an egg in all ways," coach Mike Grossner said. "Our first correction needs to be offensively. We need to establish an identity and take some pressure off of our defense. Our goal is to get it going offensively."

The Baker defense didn't play much better as it allowed 467 yards of Crusader offense, including 339 rushing yards.

"It was a complete failure on all parts of football," junior Micah Mason said. "We didn't show up on offense, defense or special teams. We had a lack of emotion or passion to play football."

Now the Wildcats are trying to forget the loss and focus on their next opponent, Central Methodist University.

"We practiced in full pads on Sunday," Grossner said. "I wanted to flush that game and get our mind set on this week. We had a great practice on Sunday. It wasn't very long, but we corrected some mistakes we have been making."

The Eagles are 1-3 with losses against three Heart of America Athletic Conference schools. They have been beaten by Missouri Valley College, MidAmerica Nazarene University and Avila University.

Grossner said his team will be challenged Saturday, because it will be playing on the road after a tough loss.

"Our team's character will be tested this week," Grossner said. "It will be a true test to get on the road and go down to a tough environment. We will see what we are made of this weekend."

Mason said the team is working on improving from its mistakes.

"A lot of what we are doing this week is learning from this past game," Mason said. "You practice how you play and vice versa."

One way Grossner hopes to improve the offense is to play Mason at running back a lot more, although he starts on defense as a linebacker.

"I think Micah Mason becomes a bigger part of the picture on offense," Grossner said. "When we put him in, we seem to be all right running the football. We are going to include him more in the offense and I think that will help the defense.

"With him in the game, I think we can run the ball better and run some more clock," Grossner said. "If he can handle it, we will play him over on defense, also. We will see how much he can handle, though."

The thought of playing more offense doesn't affect Mason.

"It doesn't matter to me, because football is football," Mason said. "I have a passion for both sides of the ball. I do what I have to do to get the job done for the team."

Against Evangel, Baker began the game by moving the ball down field. Then a couple of dropped passes forced Baker to punt. On the Wildcats' next possession, they faked a punt, but freshman Mack Brown just over threw his receiver.

Grossner said he was trying hard to take an early lead in the game.

"My whole goal, and maybe to a fault, was to get up 7-0," Grossner said. "I was really pushing the envelope early to get those seven points.

"On the first drive, we got out to midfield, but dropped three balls," Grossner said. "Then on the second drive, I did a fake punt. If we make the throw and catch, it might be a touchdown. But we didn't, so they punched it in for a touchdown. Then on the following drive, they regained field position. I think our urgency to score first might have hurt us."

Evangel scored a touchdown late in the first quarter on a 37-yard run. Three plays later, Brown threw an interception that was returned 25 yards for a touchdown. Just like that, Baker was down 14-0.

Near the end of the half, Evangel scored again on a 72-yard touchdown run to take a 21-0 lead into halftime.

Grossner said missed tackling was the main reason why Evangel scored on two big runs.

"A good back will make you miss and he did for two long runs," Grossner said. "I thought from a pass-game standpoint, we covered really well."

Neither team scored much in the second half. The Crusaders made a field goal early in the fourth quarter, while Baker managed no points.

Grossner said his defense was on the field too much throughout the game, and it just let Evangel slowly march down the field each drive.

"It was kind of a slow death," Grossner said. "Nothing stood out, except they just kept moving the ball down the field. If we do our job on the offense, we might have a chance to slow them down on defense. I give them credit. They are a good football team."

He was also very upset his team lost its second home game of the season, but he knows the home schedule is not easy.

"It's disappointing, because we have that beautiful facility out there," Grossner said. "We have had two pretty good crowds and family day. It was a perfect recipe for a nice win.

"I told the guys early in our fall camp that our home schedule is tough," Grossner said. "We have played the two reigning conference champs. Our next home game is against Missouri Valley, who is ranked 11th in the country and undefeated."

One thing that Grossner hopes didn't happen in Saturday's game was that the Wildcats took a step back in their improvement.

"We are over it and we are going to move on," Grossner said. "We are going to continue to try and get better. That's where I felt like we took a step back. I want to see us keep improving and winning."

Baker will kickoff at 1:30 p.m. Saturday in Fayette, Mo.

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