The Baker Orange

Defense proves tough against Evangel

Story by Chad Mullens, Writer

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The Baker University defense received heavy praise for its effort in a 24-14 conference victory over the Evangel University Crusaders on Saturday.

“We had one too many three-and-outs and stalled on offense,” sophomore quarterback Nick Marra said. “The defense played a great game and really kept us in it.”

The No. 3 Wildcats took a 14-3 lead in the first quarter but stalled offensively afterwards. Evangel controlled the ball for more than two-thirds of the first half and eventually cut the Baker lead to 14-6. After halftime, Evangel tied the game on a 13-yard pass from Brett Diers to Shawn Hebert, followed by a successful two-point conversion.

“I thought we had a chance to put them away early, but we missed a field goal,” head coach Mike Grossner said.

Jason Thoren, defensive coordinator for BU, was impressed with the grittiness of his squad.

“Those guys gave it everything they had down the stretch, and they did a fabulous job,” he said.

Thoren praised the preparation of the defense, especially that of senior Mike Stevenson, who recovered a fumble and came up with an interception when the Wildcats were up by seven with 8:53 left in the game.

“Nothing caught Mike by surprise,” Thoren said.

After the interception, the ensuing Baker drive took almost five minutes off the clock and led to a field goal by freshman Logan Brettell that put the game out of reach for the Crusaders.

Senior Duane Sims took advantage of the other Evangel turnover, taking a fumble 35 yards for a touchdown.

Thoren mentioned making an emphasis on stopping the run, and the Wildcats executed to perfection. Coming in averaging over 250 yards per game on the ground, Baker’s defense held the Crusaders to 104 yards on 32 carries.

The running game of the Wildcats was successful despite the absence of senior starter Camren Torneden. The El Paso, Texas, duo of Adonis Powell and DeAndre Turner-Fults combined for 171 yards, while a 5-yard touchdown was added by junior fullback Alex Stebbins.

“I think we have a great trio in those three, with different styles that we can throw at you,” Grossner said.

With the success on the ground, Marra managed the game well, completing eight passes for 108 yards and a touchdown to freshman Ledai Shawn Boose, the third for Marra and first for Boose.

“We were able to put one of our athletes on a linebacker, and he took a wheel route to the back of the end zone and made a great catch,” Marra said.

With the win, Baker improves its record to 3-0 and shares the lead in the Heart of America Athletic Conference with a 1-0 record. The Wildcats will take on the Graceland University Yellowjackets for the Baker University Homecoming game at 2 p.m on Saturday at Liston Stadium.