The Baker Orange

Morningside ends BU football season

Story by Tera Lyons

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The fourth-ranked Baker University football team fell to No. 5 Morningside College 36-28 Saturday at Liston Stadium during the second round of the NAIA national championship playoffs in a game that turned into a shootout between the two offenses.

In the final minutes of the fourth quarter, senior quarterback Jake Morse led Baker’s offense down the field, cutting into a 13-point deficit after throwing a touchdown to senior Tyler Hatcher.

“Jake put it on the money,” Hatcher said. “I honestly didn’t think I got my feet down, but I looked at the ref and he put his hands up, so I’ll take it.“

Morse was 34 of 44 for 417 yards and three touchdowns, including the 12-yard touchdown to Hatcher late in the fourth quarter.

The BU defense then forced Morningside to punt, but after BU took possession at its own two-yard line, Morse was sacked for a safety.

“I think that if we had one more possession then we would have went down and scored and won,” Hatcher said. “It didn’t work out, I guess.”

Hatcher had nine receptions for 77 yards in the loss. The offense was also led by freshman Clarence Clark, who had nine receptions for 147 yards and one touchdown, and senior Dillon Baxter, who had 73 receiving yards along with five rushes for 38 yards. Baxter scored two touchdowns –- one rushing and one receiving.

After giving up 28 points in the first half, the Baker defense allowed only one touchdown in the second half.

Sophomore Tucker Pauley was named the Defensive Player of the Game with 11 tackles, one for a loss, and an interception.

“Anyone on our defense could have got that,” Pauley said. “We all played really good team ball. It’s just really frustrating that it came to an end.”

Senior Mike Stevenson, who had an interception during the third quarter, also led the defense.

Morningside came in with the NAIA’s top-ranked offense. Head coach Mike Grossner said that at halftime he reminded the Wildcats that they were a good team as well and they had to go out and play like one.

“Two really good football teams went at it today,” Grossner said. “(Morningside) was a field goal away from a national championship last year, and that tells you where we’re headed. The thing that (the players) don’t understand is that if they keep working hard they will get there, but it hurts right now.”

Pauley still has two more seasons of eligibility left at Baker, and he is looking to the future.

“This isn’t satisfying yet, at least to me, and I don’t think its satisfying to anyone else on our team,” Pauley said. “We just really need to come out and just work our butts off in the weight room and every aspect of the game.”

Despite the loss, Grossner believes it could have been anyone’s game.

“We had great effort,” he said. “This is one of those games that either team could have won. It’s a situation that I hope they (Morningside) go and win it all.”

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