Ottawa strikes early, defeats Baker football team 24-14 in season opener

Story by Chris Duderstadt

The Baker football team tried to fight its way back into the game from the opening kickoff Saturday, but fell to Ottawa University 24-14 in the Victory Sports Network First Down Classic.

Ottawa started off the game by getting the ball to Clarence Anderson on a reverse on the opening kickoff that he returned 95 yards for a touchdown.

“You open the game in this kind of setting with a big kick return from your best player and that kind of set that tone early,” Baker head football coach Mike Grossner said.

The Wildcats had opportunities to get back into the game, but penalties, turnovers and not being able to convert on fourth down prevented any of chances of a comeback. Baker committed 16 penalties for a total of 144 yards, turned the ball over twice and went 0-4 on fourth down opportunities.

“It is unacceptable,” Grossner said. “From a discipline standpoint, we run for those and we will study where they are happening.”

Despite allowing Anderson to haul in 11 catches for 191 yards and a touchdown, the Baker defense held the Ottawa offense, which averaged 44 points per game last year, to 17 points. Senior Colton Miller led the Wildcats with eight tackles and an interception and was named the Victory Sports Network Classic Defensive Player of the Game.

Offensively, the ‘Cats rotated quarterbacks Jake Morse and Zach Faust throughout the game until Morse took a hit to his helmet, which forced him out of the game. Grossner believes the freshmen transfer from the University of Kansas likely has a concussion and his status for next week is uncertain.

The Baker offense will face Missouri Valley College, which shut out them out for three quarters in last year’s matchup, next week. Next week’s game will be the beginning of conference play and the home opener for the Wildcats. Kickoff is at 6 p.m. at Liston Stadium.