Baker football falls to Missouri Valley in season opener

Story by Kyle Davis

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In a matchup of two NAIA Top 25 squads, No. 12 Baker lost the turnover battle and the game against No. 16 Missouri Valley College, 34-14, in Marshall, Mo.

Baker started the game off with a fumble on the opening kickoff, the first of four turnovers for the Wildcats compared to two by Missouri Valley.

However, the Vikings gave the ball right back with an interception by junior Colton Miller. The Wildcats were unable to capitalize and went three-and-out on their first possession.

Missouri Valley struck first on a 30-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Chris White to Darrell Madry, who had five catches for 85 yards, at the midway point of the first quarter.

Vikings running back Sterling Hardin scored the first of his two rushing touchdowns, in a 20-carry 117-yard performance, on a three-yard run to put Missouri Valley up 14-0.

“Give credit to Missouri Valley, that’s a good football team,” head coach Mike Grossner said. “We just happened to hit a juggernaut tonight.”

White was able to find Madry again in the second quarter for a 15-yard touchdown pass to give the Vikings a 21-0 halftime lead.

White went 23-34 with 262 yards, with three touchdowns and an interception in the win.

Two more touchdowns, and an unsuccessful two-point conversion attempt, by the Vikings in the third quarter gave the home team a 34-0 advantage going into the final 15 minutes.

The Wildcats did not lay down and got on the scoreboard 18 seconds into the fourth quarter when defensive end Andrew Patch intercepted a pass and returned it 57 yards for a touchdown. Baker then when for two, but the pass to receiver Verlain Betofe was incomplete.

Running back Richie Bryant found the endzone from five yards out with just under seven minutes remaining to make the Missouri Valley lead 34-14, after a successful two-point conversion attempt.

“That’s a sign of a good team, never give up, keep playing hard,” Grossner said. “We’re not a bad team but we have to figure out our identity.”

Quarterback Mack Brown completed 28 of 47 passes for 193 yards and an interception while Bryant carried the ball 10 times for 23 yards and a touchdown in the contest. Senior Brad Fawcett led all Baker receivers with seven receptions for 55 yards.

The Wildcats will have another test in their first home game of the season next week as they take on MidAmerica Nazarene University, No. 8 in the country, at 6 p.m. Saturday at Liston Stadium.<br/>