Football survives road test at Peru State

Story by Chad Mullens, Writer

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The No. 2 Baker University football team spoiled the homecoming of the Peru State College Bobcats, scoring 24 unanswered points en route to a 24-10 victory.

Despite losing starting quarterback Nick Marra in the first quarter, Baker picked up over 100 yards more than the Bobcats. Junior Jake Heller filled in for Marra, throwing for 202 yards.

“Jake has come in and played well for us before, and once he got into a rhythm, like a pitcher in baseball, he was tough to stop,” senior Michael Lisher said.

Baker started cold, and the Bobcats capitalized, scoring the game’s first 10 points to take a 10-3 lead into halftime.

“We’ve been in so many of these close games the last two years that we know that we are able to come back when we are down like that,” Lisher said. “We know if we just follow the game plan then we can come out on top.”

Heller faced constant pressure in the first half, but the offensive line ramped up its effort to protect its quarterback in the second half.

“They have a great front seven, and they get after the quarterback,” Lisher said. “We corrected a couple of little things, and when we gave Jake some time, he made some really good plays for us.”

Due to the lackluster first half, in which the ‘Cats trailed 10-3, BU had a season-low in yards per play, and also had their worst performance on third downs, converting only 6 out of 20.

The Wildcats were able to bounce back in the second half, finishing a short drive with an Alex Stebbins touchdown run to tie the game at 10. Later in the third, the Wildcats called a fake field goal from the 2-yard-line, with freshman kicker Logan Brettell taking a pitch from the holder into the endzone for a 17-10 lead.

“That was a gutsy call in that situation,” Lisher said. “No one knew it was coming, but coach Grossner works on that stuff all the time, and we knew that was a big play that would set the tone for the rest of the second half.

Senior Camren Torneden, who was held to 92 yards on a season-high 33 carries, put the game away with a 10-yard touchdown run with 4:30 remaining in the fourth quarter.

With the Wildcats leading by 14, Peru State was unable to get anything going on offense, throwing interceptions on its last two possessions. Defensively, the Wildcats gave up fewer than 200 yards of total Peru State offense on the day.

The Wildcats will next take on the Benedictine College Ravens in the NAIA Gridiron Challenge at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri. The game will be at 7 p.m on Saturday, following a contest between the MIdAmerica Nazarene University Pioneers and the Missouri Valley College Vikings.