BU claims County Line Clash

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BU claims County Line Clash

Story by Chad Mullens, Writer

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The BU football team started off its season with a victory over No. 14 Ottawa University Braves, winning 20-12 in what may be the final County Line Clash due to conference re-alignment.

“I think every game is a big game, but I know that this week was a big game, and I’m kind of sad that we won’t get to play them anymore in the regular season,” sophomore Adam Novak said.

The Wildcats started out strong in their first possession with a 54-yard run out by sophomore Clarence Clark. Clark, Baker’s leading receiver in 2013 did not receive many touches in the game but was able to make the most of them with 85 yards from scrimmage.

Baker had a chance to add another three points on the following drive, but Clark missed a 34-yard field goal attempt. Later in the first quarter, the Wildcats extended the lead to 14-0 on junior Alex Stebbins’ 1-yard plunge into the end zone.

The Wildcat defense was able to keep Ottawa’s rushing attack in check for the first quarter. The Braves were not even able to obtain a first down until it was 14-0, but they scored on a 6-yard run by Luke Lundy just before halftime to cut the deficit to 14-6. Lundy finished the game with 134 yards on 28 attempts.

“He’s a big guy who likes to run downhill and he’s really talented, so he’s more of a gang tackle guy, not a guy you want to take on one-on-one,” Novak said of Lundy, who rushed for over 1,500 yards last season.

The key to victory for BU was the defensive line, which had four sacks and held Braves quarterback Michael Behr to just 19 carries for 39 yards.

“All of our D-lineman, we are a close group, and we all work together and do our jobs,” Novak said.

The former tight end switched to the other side of the ball last year and led the team in 2013 in sacks. He led the effort against the Braves with eight tackles and two sacks.

“It was definitely tough leaving the offense, but I sure love defense, too,” he said. “I just do whatever coach asks me to do, and me and (Nick) Becker, we have a pretty good game together.”

In redshirt sophomore Nick Marra’s first start coming off of an ACL tear, he completed 17 of 27 pass attempts for 200 yards. Marra appeared to re-injure his surgically repaired knee just before halftime but was able to come back into the game in the second half. In Marra’s absence, freshman James Valentine took over the reigns at quarterback, throwing the Wildcats’ only interception while going 2-8 for 10 yards.

“I wasn’t surprised to see (Marra) come back,” Novak said. “He’s tough and he’s a good football player, and overall a great guy,”

Senior Camren Torneden was Baker’s featured back against Ottawa, and took advantage of his 20 carries with 130 yards and a touchdown. Baker thrived on the ground, gaining 183 yards and scoring three touchdowns. Torneden put the game away in the fourth quarter, bursting through the line for a 50-yard touchdown with 5:33 to play.

“Cam’s a guy, where you stop him five or six times, but the next thing you know, you blink and he’s gone.” Novak said.

Down by eight, Ottawa had a chance to tie the game with a touchdown and two-point conversion, but the team’s final drive was stalled inside Baker territory after a pivotal third down sack by freshman Josh Kock. The Braves failed to convert on fourth down, giving the Wildcats the ball and sealing the victory for BU.

The No. 5 Wildcats will take the field at Liston Stadium for its home opener at 6 p.m Saturday against the Sterling College Warriors. Sterling lost in its opening game to the Concordia University Bulldogs.