Pioneers barely sneak past ‘Cats


The Baker football team got within four points of its goal to stay undefeated at home Saturday. Season at a glance.<a href="/football">Season at a glance.</a> Season at a glance.

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The Wildcats had the lead until about six minutes left in the game against MidAmerica Nazarene University but lost 34-30. In an attempt to come back, the team missed a field goal attempt with time winding down and never regained the ball. The ‘Cats relied heavily on the passing game during the game, with quarterback Mack Brown completing 23 of 33 passes for 354 yards and three touchdowns.

“We thought we could score some points throwing the ball,” head coach Mike Grossner said.

Running back Richie Bryant said the team knew the passing attack would be successful.

“The strategy was to come out and score points,” he said. “The passing game was really working and (MidAmerica) wasn’t adjusting.”

Seven players caught passes from Brown during the contest. Junior James Hensley led the way with five catches for 141 yards receiving and two touchdowns. He also added a punt return for a touchdown. Senior Marck Kabbany caught five passes for 95 yards and a touchdown.

Grossner said the whole team did its part and worked hard enough to earn a victory.

“We played well enough to win in all aspects,” he said.

The defense once again had standout performances from several players. Senior Micah Mason had 20 total tackles and an interception. Freshman Colton Miller and Junior Spencer Curran both finished the game with 13 tackles. Baker’s defense was on the field for 80 plays, while the offense only had 46 plays.

Grossner said he thinks the offensive attack can be as potent as they were Saturday on a regular basis.

“Down the road I think it has great potential,” he said. “We need to improve our running game. It’s a work in progress I would say.”

Bryant also believes the offense will have more productive outings in the future.

“We have the weapons to put a lot of points on the board,” he said. “There are still some things we need to work on to get better.”

The Wildcats will travel to Kansas City, Mo., for a 1 p.m. game Saturday to finish the regular season against the Avila University Eagles.

Grossner said the Eagles have been getting better.

“They’re much improved on offense,” he said. “They have a quarterback that throws the ball around well. It’s going to be a tough game.”

The game will be special to the team for several reasons. The team has a chance to finish with a winning season for the first time since 2000. Also, it will be the last contest for the seniors.

Sophomore Alphaeus Williams said the team will be ready to play.

“We’re going to put it to them because it’s our last game,” he said.

Bryant said a winning season would be significant, but the team will be hungry for more.

“It will be a big accomplishment from where we were last year,” he said. “We won’t be satisfied. We will work hard to make our record better next year.”

Grossner said a winning record would aid in the recruitment of new players.

“It’s a lot nicer to go out and recruit and say we were six and five instead of five and six,” he said.