Baker holds off Crusaders for victory

The Baker University football team got past its road-trip woes Saturday, defeating Evangel University 16-14 in Springfield, Mo. Season at a glance.<a href="/football">Season at a glance.</a> Season at a glance.

Guard Clint Benge said the win will serve as motivation, and that beating Evangel was especially satisfying.

“It kind of got our spirits up,” Benge said. “They blanked us on our own field last year.”

Quarterback Mack Brown said the win allowed the team to stay within reach of postseason play.

“It was a huge win that kept us in the playoff picture,” Brown said. “It was definitely a huge hurdle to overcome.”

The defense stepped up again, allowing only 34 rushing yards during the game. With Evangel attempting to get in possession for a game-winning field goal, the defense held their ground and on fourth down, Evangel’s pass attempt fell incomplete. The defense totaled eight pass breakups and three sacks.

The running game was the focal point of the Wildcat offense again, as the Baker running backs totaled 197 yards.

Brown said the team’s running game has been key to their recent success.

“The line is playing really well,” he said. “The running backs are making nice cuts and seeing the holes well.”

Kicker Derek Doerfler was again a huge part of the team’s success, connecting on three of five goals, all of them 50 yards or longer.

Receiver Brett Woods said the game was an important win because every game is a must-win.

“It’s big because each game we consider to be a playoff now,” he said. “This game was a step in the right direction.”

Next up, the Central Methodist Eagles will come to town Saturday for a 6 p.m. matchup against the Wildcats.

Brown said the Eagles will run a defense similar to the one Evangel used last week.

“We will try to establish the run to throw the ball,” he said.

Woods said the Wildcats’ recent record versus Central Methodist makes the game more meaningful.

“The big thing that sticks out is that we’ve lost the last three years in a row,” he said.

Former Baker Wildcat and current Green Bay Packer head coach Mike McCarthy is returning to Baker Saturday to be inducted into the athletic hall of fame. McCarthy is expected to give the team a pre-game speech.

Brown said having such a big name on campus will be a good experience.

“It’s really special to have an NFL head coach come to a small college,” he said.

Benge said McCarthy’s return to Baker will be inspiring to the team.

“I’m looking forward to it,” Benge said. “I think it will really get us going.”