Football beats Evangel to claim division title


John Hepp

(Left) Junior Brandon Lehnherr and senior Brennen Kellog run the team out of the inflatable helmet to begin the match up with no. 17 Evangel University.

The No.15 ranked Baker University Wildcats faced No. 17 ranked Evangel University in NAIA game of the week as it was a match up for first place in the Heart of America Conference South Division at Liston Stadium on Sat. Nov. 16.

The Wildcats won the coin toss but deferred to the second half, giving the Evangel Crusaders the first possession of the game. The Crusaders took advantage of having the ball first and marched down the field to score a touchdown on the opening drive to take a 7-0 lead against the Wildcat defense.

The first possession for the Wildcats did not go as planned as the offense fumbled the ball at mid-field to give the ball back to the Crusader offense. The Wildcat defense stepped up and forced the Crusaders to punt, not giving the Crusaders any points off of the turnover.

The Wildcat offense could not get anything going in the first quarter as the score at the end of the first quarter was 7-0 in favor of the Evangel Crusaders.

The Crusaders had the chance to go up 10-0 with a field goal, but the Wildcats came up with a huge play to block the field goal attempt.

The Wildcat offense got their first touchdown of the day on the next drive as JD Woods took the ball on a crucial fourth down needing to gain two yards to maintain possession of the ball. Woods got the two yards needed and more as he took the ball for a 36-yard run for a touchdown. Ethan Barnard then added the extra point to tie the game at 7-7.

The Wildcat defense conceded another touchdown to the Crusaders before halftime to make the score 14-7. The Crusaders had the chance to further their lead, but they opted to fake the field goal attempt on fourth down. But the Wildcat defense was not fooled on the fake and tackled the Evangel kicker for a loss on the play to take the ball back.

Baker received the kickoff after halftime and promptly tied the game at 14-14 with 12:37 left in the third quarter after a touchdown pass from March Aguinaga to Sam Huckabee.

The Crusaders had a chance to take the lead again, but their special team’s struggles continued as they missed another field goal attempt. Going into the fourth quarter the score remained tied at 14-14.

Brennen Feeback caught a pass from Aguinaga to give the Wildcats a 21-14 lead with 13:44 remaining in the game. The Wildcat defense continued having a strong second half, giving the ball back to the offense after holding the Crusaders on fourth and nine.

Woods then got his second touchdown of the day after some strong runs against the Crusader defense to give the Wildcats a commanding 28-14 lead with 1:36 left in the game.

The Crusaders went on to score again off a Wildcat turnover to bring the score to 28-21, but it was too little to late. The Wildcats secured the win 28-21.

For the fifth year in a row, the Baker University Wildcats secured first place of the Heart of America Conference South Division. The Wildcats will now advance to the NAIA Football Championship Series after receiving an automatic bid with the win over Evangel.