‘Cats can’t climb out of early hole

11/02/07The Wildcats met up with a talented Missouri Valley College team Saturday and ended up with a frustrating conference loss.

Season at a glance

A blocked field goal and punting mishaps allowed the Vikings to take control early on, and the Wildcat offense wasn’t able to move the chains until late in the game.

Head coach Mike Grossner said several factors led to the offense struggling early on.

“Our field position was poor to start the game, and that was compounded with special teams errors,” he said. (Story continued below.)

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A bizarre play before halftime left the Wildcats with a bad taste in their mouths. A field goal attempt by kicker Derek Doerfler was blocked and returned for a touchdown. Luckily, there was a penalty on the defense but Missouri Valley was given an untimed down, which resulted in the Vikings adding three more points to the scoreboard with their own field goal.

“We go from two scores down, to 20-0 and have a loss of momentum at half,” Grossner said.

Though Baker added 20 points in the second half, the Vikings added a few more of their own and the score ended up being 34-20.

Offensive lineman Clint Benge said the ‘Cats were haunted by mistakes early on but made adjustments, which allowed the team to score.

“We were just like one mistake away from getting our plays done right,” he said. “Once we got focused, we got things back on track.”

Grossner said the Vikings have tons of players and have learned how to play in important contests.

“Their depth is great,” he said. “They have experience in big games.”

Quarterback Mack Brown said the Missouri Valley defense came into the game with a whole of talent and experience.

“They definitely had a bunch of athletes on the defensive side of the ball,” he said.

Grossner said he was pleased with the way the team responded in the second half and believed its effort matched that of the Vikings.

“We felt like we dominated the game from that point on,” he said. “I was proud of the way our guys kept playing hard.”

The Wildcats’ second half effort made the statistic totals pretty even. Baker ended up with 278 total yards while Missouri Valley gained 321 yards.

Brown finished with 218 yards passing and receiver Marcus Nolan caught nine passes for 138 yards. Baker’s touchdowns came from quarterback Kendall Bradley throwing a five-yard touchdown pass to running back Richie Bryant, cornerback Eric Allen returning an interception for a touchdown and two field goals by Doerfler.

The MidAmerica Nazarene University Pioneers come to town Saturday for a 1 p.m. kickoff, in what promises to be an interesting contest.

“It’s a matchup of our defense versus their powerful offense,” Grossner said. “Hopefully, our defense can control them.”

Benge said Baker’s offense must come to the aid of the defense.

“Their pretty potent on offense,” he said. “We need to help our defense out by getting them off the field as much as we can.”

Brown said the offense must rack up points to stay in the game.

“We are going to have to try and control the ball and score a lot of points,” he said.

Grossner said the team still has a chance of making the playoffs.

“If things fall right, there could be a three or four-way tie for second place,” he said.

Grossner added that the game has special meaning because it’s the last home game for the coaching staff’s first recruiting class upon arriving at Baker.

“These guys have developed into great football players,” he said. “They’ve been through thick and thin. We are really going to miss them.”