Football suffers first loss at MNU

Story by Chad Mullens, Writer

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Missed opportunities and unfortunate injuries spelled doom for the Baker University football team at the Olathe District Activity Center on Saturday, as the Wildcats suffered their first loss at the hands of the MidAmerica Nazarene University Pioneers.

In overtime, Baker fell, 34-27, bringing its record to 7-1 on the season and 5-1 in the Heart of America Athletic Conference. The record ties Baker for first place with MNU and Missouri Valley College.

Head coach Mike Grossner did not sulk too much in the loss.

“The only thing we lost today was an undefeated season,” Grossner said. “We will see how the guys respond. We gotta go win the rest to stay in the hunt for the HAAC title.”

Without sophomore defensive linemen Nick Shondell and Nick Becker, the Wildcats had to go with freshmen Josh Kock and Sione Maumau.

“We had to go to plans D and E, and I don’t think we were ready for that,” Grossner said.

Baker also lost freshman quarterback Logan Brettell to an injury in the fourth quarter. Grossner was unsure of the extent of the injury.

“I didn’t get to talk to him, but obviously he wasn’t able to go,” Grossner said. “He’s gotta learn to protect himself, but that will come with age.”

Brettell led the Wildcats with 18 carries for 125 rushing yards and two touchdowns.

Special teams played a big role for each team. A fake punt for MNU kept a drive alive that led to a touchdown to cut Baker’s lead to 21-17 early in the second half.

“On fourth-and-12 it was a big call, and you could tell they were in desperation mode,” Grossner said.

The Wildcats also had a chance to take a 30-27 lead with less than two minutes to go, but opted to go for it on fourth-and-2, instead of kicking a 42-yard field goal.

“I’m kicking myself for not kicking a field goal there,” Grossner said. “Logan was our number one guy, and he was down, and I thought that was a tough position to put (freshman Abram Garcia) in.”

Garcia had a 20-yard field goal blocked earlier in the quarter with Baker up 27-20, and the ensuing Pioneer drive tied the game. After the Wildcats’ failed fourth down conversion, MidAmerica drove inside the Baker 20 yard-line to try a potential game-winning field goal but missed wide right on a 34-yard attempt, sending the game into overtime.

“We had our chances, but we came into overtime and didn’t get it done,” Grossner said.

The Pioneers started overtime with the ball and quickly drove inside the Baker 10 yard-line. The Wildcat defense held the Pioneers to a fourth-down play with 1 yard to go, but MNU running back Ashtin Johnson converted, and then Erik May followed with a touchdown run from 1 yard out.

BU failed to execute offensively in overtime, gaining just 1 yard on four plays. Junior Jake Heller threw a pass into the end zone intended for junior Jeremy Immenschuh, but it fell incomplete, sealing the Pioneer victory.

The Wildcats will take their 7-1 record back home next week against Culver-Stockton College. Grossner is excited to bring his players back to Liston Stadium for the first time since Sept. 24.

“I know our guys are hurting, because they’re not used to losing,” Grossner said. “But we’re gonna see how they’re feeling and get back to our home crowd, which will be huge.”

The game against Culver-Stockton will be played at 1 p.m Saturday at Liston Stadium. In the last BU vs. CSC matchup, the game ended in a Baker shutout, 39-0.