Football claims County Line Clash

Story by Chad Mullens

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The third time the Ottawa University Braves lined up for a potential game-winning field goal, head coach Mike Grossner lost track of what was happening.

“I was in tune for the 42-yarder, but I had a problem with the (roughing the kicker) call, so I walked down the sideline and it was the first time I didn’t watch the last play,” Grossner said. “But I guess it missed.”

Weekly Awards

Senior Dillion Baxter won the HAAC Offensive Player of the Week award.

Junior Andre Jolly won the HAAC Defensive Player of the Week award and was named one of the Beyond Sports Network Defensive Athletes of the Week.

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Baker at University of Saint Mary – Sept. 14

1:30 p.m. – Leavenworth

The 27-yard attempt did miss, giving the No. 15-ranked Wildcats a 25-24 victory in their season opener against 18th-ranked Ottawa.

The Wildcats took control early, scoring on the very first possession. Senior quarterback Jake Morse hit junior Scott Meyer from 27 yards out on a fourth-down play to take a 7-0 lead.

After the opening drive touchdown, the offense became stagnant, converting just six first downs with two interception throws by Morse. Grossner believes that the lack of rest for the defense led to poor tackling.

“We didn’t sustain a drive on offense in the first half so that tired our defense out, but we still kept them out of the end zone and made them kick field goals,” Grossner said.

Three field goals by Braves’ kicker Jeff Stamp gave Ottawa a 9-7 lead going into halftime. OU extended that lead on the second-half kickoff when Joshua Stangby ran it back 95 yards for a touchdown.

“After they took the second-half kickoff, my halftime speech went down the toilet, so we really had to regroup twice,” Grossner said. “But I know good teams can do that.”

Stangby burned the Wildcats again when he caught a 44-yard bomb from Braves’ quarterback Michael Behr, giving Ottawa a 21-7 advantage.

Morse stepped up during the second half, going 12-20 for 238 yards and two touchdowns. He had 327 yards through the air on the night.

Morse spread the ball around, completing a pass to 10 different receivers. But none was more important than a connection with senior Dillon Baxter. The running back took a dump-off pass that looked to be a 5-yard loss, but Baxter made two moves and took it to the right end of the field to score.

“That was a great play by Jake scrambling around and stuff, but he found his playmaker and (Baxter) found the corner of the end zone,” Grossner said.

Baxter tallied 119 yards on the ground on just 16 carries, in addition to the game-winning play with less than a minute remaining. This game was Baxter’s first since coming to Baker that his mother was able to watch.

“I had a chip on my shoulder tonight,” Baxter said. “I wanted to make my mom proud and God blessed me with a great game.”

Baxter most likely would have had a greater role in the offense had he not been sidelined in the second quarter with dehydration.<br/>

“If you watch TV around the country, you’ll see people cramping up and having problems,” Baxter said. “I thought I drank a lot of water the day before, but I guess it wasn’t enough.”

With the clock winding down to 54 seconds in the fourth quarter, the Baker sideline may have felt too comfortable with its one-point lead.

“When you go up like that, it’s natural to think that it’s over,” Grossner said. “But they had a great field-goal kicker and two plays later they’re in our territory, and now they’re feeling pretty confident and we’re sitting here kind of wishing and hoping.”

First, facing a 42-yard attempt, the Wildcat defense jumped offsides, moving the ball five yards closer. Then, on a 37-yarder that missed, the Wildcats were called on a roughing the kicker penalty. This gave Stamp, previously 4-4 on the night in field goals, a 27-yard attempt.

“You would think, ‘third time’s a charm,’ right?” Baxter said. “But God was on our side tonight and we won.”