Baker defense shuts down Culver-Stockton
After an early bye week, the Baker University football team played an efficient, yet dominating homecoming game Saturday.
Efficient as in 324 yards of offense, four incomplete passes and zero turnovers. Dominating as in allowing 72 yards of offense, one forced fumble recovery and zero points allowed.
“We played well in all areas,” coach Mike Grossner said. “We didn’t turn the ball over either, which is something we corrected from the first three games.”
Baker University (2-2) won its second straight game of the season after dropping the opening pair of Heart of America Athletic Conference contests. Baker defeated Culver-Stockton 45-0 in the battle of Wildcats.
“The win against Avila helped,” Grossner said. “Then we had the bye week. To keep them active is difficult. I felt it was good timing for a bye week. We work on ourselves the first week and our opponent the second week. I felt like we needed this two-game stretch to get some confidence and swagger back.”
Baker’s offense possessed the ball for 35 minutes of the 60-minute contest. The Wildcats also rushed the ball 40 times for 175 yards. Senior Richie Bryant carried most of that load, as he carried the ball 24 times for 120 yards.
Bryant also scored four touchdowns for Baker and three of those came in the fourth quarter.
“We only ran 58 plays,” Grossner said. “We gained 350 yards on those plays, though. We ran the football, which took time off of the clock.”
The Wildcats’ senior quarterback Mack Brown completed 14 of 18 passes for 149 yards Saturday. Brown threw one touchdown. Senior Verlain Betofe was the recipient of the 10-yard pass.
“We didn’t do anything crazy on offense,” Grossner said. “We ran the football. Mack was very efficient throwing the ball.”
Grossner also said his punt return team helped give his team great field position all game. Freshman Reggie Harris returned eight punts for 138 yards, which included a 38-yard return.
“Our punt return team played well,” Grossner said. “They gave us great field position. Reggie Harris had some exciting returns.”
On defense, Baker was simply dominating. The Wildcats held Culver-Stockton to 72 yards of offense on 53 plays, for an average of 1.36 yards per play. Most of those yards were on the ground, as Culver-Stockton rushed the ball 42 times for 50 yards.
Grossner said his team might not have wrapped up many tackles, but it hit their opponents at full speed many times throughout the contest. He said that physical nature wore down their opponents.
“We’ve held opponents to less than 200 yards in the last two games,” he said. “We were finding the ball and when we did, it was with a purpose. I think we knocked the will out of them.”
The Baker defense also sacked Culver-Stockton seven times Saturday. Six players helped record those sacks for Baker. They were junior Andrew Patch, junior Matt Brock, junior Kyle Weinmaster, sophomore Ryder Werts, senior Levi Calhoun and junior Bradley Thimmesch.
Senior Derek Doerfler kicked a 53-yarder and connected on all six of his PATs to earn HAAC Special Teams Player of the Week honors.
“It was nice to win our homecoming game,” Grossner said. “There were a lot of alums back and they were measuring how we’re doing. I felt like our kids came out and played hard all game.”
Baker will play at Lindenwood, the conference’s lone undefeated squad, at 1:30 p.m. Saturday. The Lions are 5-0 and ranked No. 3 in the NAIA.
“They are No. 3 in the country, but that is not intimidating to us,” Grossner said. “We are more concerned with us and how we are performing. They are always very tough to play there and it’s their homecoming. I think the key to the ball is not turning the ball over and tackling. We’ve also got to take advantage of good field position.”