Baker falls in second overtime as field goal is blocked
Olathe — Derek Doerfler trudged down the hill from Pioneer Stadium, heading slowly to Baker University’s football dressing area.
An NAIA All-American place-kicker last season, Doerfler was alone with his thoughts after his potential game-winning 25-yard field goal in overtime was blocked.
“The snap and hold were good,” Doerfler said. “I feel pretty bad, yeah.”
With new life, MidAmerica Nazarene went on to edge Baker, 42-41, in the second overtime to remain unbeaten on a drab windy Saturday afternoon.
“I was 100 percent confident he’d make it,” Baker coach Mike Grossner said. “To me that’s an extra point. But he kicked it low.”
Earlier, Doerfler had evoked oohs and ahhs from the wind-chilled crowd by nailing a pair of booming three-pointers — one from 54 yards and the other from 47. So impressive had Doerfler been that Grossner gave him a chance to kick a 57-yarder just before the end of regulation that would have given Baker a 37-34 victory.
That kick, as it turned out, was foreshadowing because it also was unloaded on a low trajectory, and was blocked by the Pioneers.
Baker (7-3) entered the game hoping to hand MANU (9-0) its first loss and, more important, remain in the chase for the Heart of America Athletic Conference championship and perhaps earn a postseason berth.
“We lost the HAAC championship is what we did,” a glum Grossner said. “And now we’re at the mercy of the voters.”
Baker had ridden a six-game win streak into the No. 15 slot in the weekly NAIA poll and Saturday’s loss could prove damaging.
“I would hope the NAIA would keep us in the Top 16,” quarterback Mack Brown said.
Brown threw two touchdown passes to wide receiver Tyrell Spain, but the Wildcats’ primary weapon Saturday was tailback Richie Bryant, who showed no effects of a knee injury that had limited him to just seven carries and 13 yards last week.
A 5-foot-11, 200-pound senior from Louisiana, Mo., Bryant rushed 30 times for 183 yards and three touchdowns to maintain his stranglehold on the HAAC rushing lead.
“Richie stepped up big-time for us today,” Brown said.
Despite the deflation of Doerfler’s failed FG attempt that ended the first OT, Baker took possession at the 25-yard line in the second OT and scored on a 10-yard pass from Brown to Spain. Doerfler’s extra-point kick gave Baker a 41-34 lead.
Then it was the Pioneers’ turn and they needed just five plays to score to pull within one. But instead of opting for a tie and a third OT, MANU coach Jeff Stugart eschewed the kick and went for two instead. Sure enough, moments later, quarterback Stinson Dean connected with Juan Redmon in the end zone to end this up-and-down nail-biter.
“This must have been about the best football game going Saturday,” Baker’s Brown said. “But it’s a tough loss and we have to bounce back next week.”
Baker will conclude the regular season at home Saturday against Avila.