Football survives Sterling rally, 31-30

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Football survives Sterling rally, 31-30

Story by Chad Mullens, Writer

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The Baker University football team earned another close victory on Saturday, holding off a comeback attempt by the Sterling College Warriors to win, 31-30.

With just 1:17 left, Sterling pulled within one point after coming back from a 24-7 halftime deficit. The potential game-tying extra point was blocked by BU senior Duane Sims.

“That was a big play to be made, and we got a great push up the middle,” head coach Mike Grossner said.

After a three-and-out on the ensuing drive by Baker, the Warriors were left with one last possession. Senior Andre Jolly left his mark on the game, hurrying Sterling quarterback Reggie Langford on one play, then sacking Langford as time expired to preserve the win.

“I widened out a bit, hit a couple moves, and I was fortunate enough to chase him down,” Jolly said.

Jolly, the 2012 All-American defensive end, had a great return to the field, recording 2.5 sacks in his first game back since tearing both patellar tendons last season.

“That’s a nice return for him, getting out there just to see if he could still do it,” Grossner said. “He’s not all the way back to where he’ll be down the road, but he sure is close.”

Filling in for a shaken-up senior Camren Tornaden, sophomore Adonis Powell ran for a game-high and career-high 163 yards, including a 77-yard touchdown just before halftime to go up 17 points.

“On the longest run I was untouched, and then on my second touchdown I also didn’t get touched, so that just a phenomenal job by the O-linemen,” Powell said.

Tornaden, the team’s leading rusher in its first game of the season, was able to come back into the game as a kick returner, even taking a return 68 yards to set up a Baker scoring drive. Powell, however, took over the running load for the rest of the game.

With both senior Scott Meyer and sophomore Clarence Clark being out with season-ending injuries, the Wildcats will need both the running game help and big-play potential from Powell heading into conference play.

“We had a nice little El-Paso connection with Adonis, and the freshman, DeAndre Turner-Fults,” Grossner said. “I knew that Adonis was a tough runner, but he showed some breakaway speed today. I was really impressed.”

Sophomore quarterback Nick Marra bounced back from an ugly first quarter pick-six with a strong first half to put the Wildcats up heading into the locker room. He threw two darts down the field in the second quarter for touchdowns, a 26-yard hookup with sophomore T.J Holtrop, and a 27-yard connection with senior Dylan Perry.

“I think we came out (of halftime) a little cold and a little too confident,” Powell said. “We should have came out with the mentality that the score was still 0-0, instead of coming out with big heads and thinking that the game was sealed.”

Baker defense played lights-out in the first half, giving up only 30 yards. The Wildcats ended the game outgaining the Warriors 466-298, but Sterling was able to come back with the help of an interception in the end zone by Kenya Edner, a blocked field goal and big plays by Antonio Bray.

“Coach Thoren told us we needed to keep the ball out of (Bray’s) hands, but he ended up getting the ball and making some things happen with it,” Jolly said.

Bray burned the Wildcat defense with 105 receiving yards, including a 61-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter to make the score 31-24.

Langford threw his second touchdown to Dennton Hudspeth, a converted quarterback, before the fateful blocked PAT.

The 2-0 Wildcats will start Heart of America Athletic Conference play at 6 p.m. on Saturday in Springfield, Missouri. where BU will take on Evangel University. The Crusaders also finished the non-conference season undefeated, most recently beating Southwestern College 45-14.