Baker football defeats Evangel 24-17

Story by Kyle Davis

The Baker football team was on the road for the final time in the 2009 regular season and took a 24-17 win over Evangel University back to Baldwin City.

The Wildcats did not waste time jumping out to an early lead, with running back Richie Bryant rushing for his 13th touchdown of the season, early in the first quarter, to give Baker a 7-0 lead. Bryant recorded his eighth straight game with more than 100 yards rushing, after rushing for 114 yards on 29 carries and a touchdown against Evangel.

A 43-yard Derek Doerfler field goal extended the lead to 10-0 heading into the second quarter.

The Crusaders responded in the second quarter with their special teams play, returning a punt by Danny Ohmes 66 yards for a touchdown.

Baker had the final answer in the first half, as quarterback Mack Brown found freshman Reggie Harris for an 18-yard touchdown pass to put the Wildcats up 17-7 at the half.

Brown threw his second touchdown pass of the day, this time to Verlain Betofe, to extend the lead to 24-7. Brown completed 19 of 36 passes for 161 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. Brown had no trouble finding receivers to throw to, completing passes to 10 different targets.

The Wildcats had three red-zone opportunities that were unsuccessful, including two interceptions inside the five-yard line and a dropped ball on fourth-and-10.

“When you get in the red zone three times like that, and you don’t get any points, because we have a nice kicker that can get us nine points right there, that’s a big difference in our style of play,” head coach Mike Grossner said. “We’ve got to get points in when we cross the 50 (yard line).”

Evangel did not give up, despite trailing by 17, scoring 10 unanswered points to end the game. The Crusaders hit a field goal with three minutes remaining in the game to cut the lead to seven.

“We were 40 minutes, time of possession, to their 20. We ran 88 plays to their 50. We were in pretty good control there, we just needed to score one more time to knock it out and we didn’t,” Grossner said. “On the road, that’s going to happen and I’m proud of the guys for coming away with a nice win.”

The Crusaders fumbled three times in the game, two of them coming on punt returns.

Next up for the Wildcats will be Central Methodist University for the last game of the regular season on senior day at 1 p.m. Saturday at Liston Stadium.