The Baker Orange

‘Cats win at Arrowhead, remain undefeated

Story by Chad Mullens, Writer

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The No. 2 Baker University football team pulled off a 27-21 win over the Benedictine College Ravens on Saturday at Arrowhead Stadium in the NAIA Gridiron Challenge.

Senior Camren Torneden relished the opportunity to play in an NFL stadium but refused to let the stage affect his play.

“For a lot of us, this is as far as we’ll make it,” he said. “(On Friday) we had a chance to get the oohs and ahhs out, but it’s a beautiful atmosphere. We love the attention and all of our fans and family here. It’s amazing.”

Torneden, Baker’s leading rusher, played a big part in the Wildcats victory once again with 24 carries for 89 yards and a touchdown. Beating Benedictine, the only team to defeat BU in the regular season last year, was a goal for him and his team.

“I have waited a long time for this,” he said. “This is a game we wanted, but week in and week out, we just go out looking for a win.”

Junior Jake Heller filled in for injured quarterback Nick Marra by throwing for 207 yards and a touchdown.

“I love the way he demands attention in the huddle,” Torneden said of Heller. “He’s a great leader.”

Defensive coordinator Jason Thoren was impressed as well.

“I saw him looking downfield, hitting open guys and making plays,” Thoren said.

The Wildcats were outgained 364-310, but the defense held position in critical moments, holding the Ravens to three-of-14 on third down conversions, and one-of-four on fourth down.

“Early in the game, it seemed like the first quarter was a little rough, but once we settled down, we settled down nicely,” Thoren said. “We got a couple of three-and-outs, and credit to Benedictine, they have a tough offense.”

Baker had an advantage on special teams in the first half, with a blocked field goal by Josh Kock and a blocked punt by Byron Roath, the latter resulting in a 24-yard touchdown strike from Heller to freshman Ladai Shawn Boose.

“Field position is critical in a game like this,” Thoren said. “The kicking game is always huge and we lucked out on a few plays.”

Boose had six catches for 102 yards, the first 100-yard output of his Baker career. This was also the first 100-yard game from any Wildcats receiver this season.

“He’s a playmaker,” Thoren said of Boose. “He’s one of those guys that loves the ball in his hands, and you can see why, because when he does have the ball, big things happen.”

However, Boose did fumble on a 48-yard reception in the first half, which Benedictine was able to capitalize on. The Ravens then drove 84 yards in eight plays, ending with a 22-yard touchdown.

Benedictine junior running back Tyler Henness ran through the Baker defense with 31 carries for 152 yards and a touchdown.

“That’s a tough back,” Thoren said of Henness. “He’s a good running back and he falls forward, but I thought we did a good job of tackling him after the first quarter.”

Baker took a 27-14 lead into the fourth quarter, but the Ravens scored on a second touchdown pass to cut the BU lead to six. With less than a minute to go, senior Andre Jolly sacked junior quarterback Kyle Harmyk on second down, and the Ravens were not able to pick up the 19 yards needed for a first down.

“There were times where we didn’t execute, but we pulled it out in the end,” Torneden said.

The 6-0 Wildcats will take on Avila University at 1 p.m Saturday in Kansas City, Missouri. The Eagles will take a 3-3 record into the game, standing 1-3 in Heart of America Athletic Conference play.

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