Baker takes home ‘mud bowl’ crown
Eight inches of rain and a sloppy field was no contest for the Baker University football team.
In their first Heart of America Athletic Conference game of the season, the Wildcats (1-1, 1-0) beat Culver-Stockton 28-0 in the "mud bowl" in Canton, Mo., on Saturday. Culver-Stockton's grass field was soon turned into a mud pit after the game began as the area was hit with five straight days of rainfall.
"I think we played really well, especially if you saw the conditions our kids had to play in," Baker coach Mike Grossner said. "We didn't turn the ball over. I thought we were the better team heading into the game, but eight inches of rain later, you don't know what could happen. It was a nice win on the road, but now we prepare for our home opener."
Baker will play its first home game of the season when it will host Lindenwood University at 6 p.m. Saturday at Liston Stadium.
Last Saturday, both teams combined for 18 fumbles, only three of which were lost. The Wildcats held Culver to 93 total yards; 68 rushing and 25 passing.
On top of that, Baker also intercepted their fellow Wildcats five times and allowed only five completions. Junior Rodney Harris led the charge with two interceptions.
"Defensively, I couldn't ask for a better performance," Grossner said. "We got five interceptions and two fumbles. I think they only had five completions total."
Even with the conditions, Baker's offense had success as it nearly totaled 300 yards. Junior Mack Brown completed 18 of 29 passes for 185 yards and one touchdown pass to Brett Woods.
Senior Richie Bryant rushed the ball 22 times for 107 yards. He accounted for all other touchdowns by Baker.
"From an offensive perspective, I thought Mack Brown was super efficient with the football," Grossner said. "He didn't throw an interception and didn't have a fumble. Richie Bryant was great carrying the ball 22 times for 107 yards and three touchdowns while not fumbling.
"Our receivers were catching everything," he said. "I think we only had two drops and both of our receivers were upset about their drops."
Baker scored three touchdowns in the first half to take a 21-0 lead heading into the break. However, the lead was nearly 14 points higher.
"We had the ball punched out through the back of the end zone on an interception return and we had a 60-yard run called back or it would have been 35-0 at halftime."
Grossner's team added one more score in the third quarter in conditions that he said made it tough to even snap the ball from the center to the quarterback.
"In the second half, both teams couldn't get a snap," he said. "The ball was floating in mud puddles. The conditions got worse and worse. The last quarter and a half was spent trying to get a snap, not fumble the ball, punt it and watch them fumble. It was that type of game."
The soggy conditions didn't bother Baker, according to Grossner. In fact, he said the players began to enjoy the "mud bowl."
"Our kids didn't complain or say anything," Grossner said. "They went about their business and had some fun. It's not often they get to play a football game in that setting. There was a lot of laughing. It was a backyard mud bowl. I think their kids were having fun, too. It got to a point where it was comical."
Now Baker turns its attention to the No. 8 Lindenwood Lions that are coming to town Saturday. They lost to No. 7 MidAmerica Nazarene to begin the season but destroyed Avila last week.
"I don't think mentally we need to rev our guys up too much for this game," Grossner said. "They understand the repercussions and what's going on. I explained to them on Sunday that it's not a make-or-break game, because it's early in the year, but I think it's a statement game for our program. Hopefully the home-field advantage is on our side. The home opener is always exciting."
The weather forecast is calling for a dry weekend, which pleases Baker's coach.
"I hope to think we haven't seen the best of our football team yet," Grossner said. "I want a nice day and perfect day so they can unleash some of the firepower we have."