BU football team wins season opener over Braves

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Each unit of the Baker University football team contributed a large part to its 41-16 victory against Ottawa University Saturday at Liston Stadium.

The special teams unit had a very special night by scoring all 17 of the Wildcats’ first half points, to give BU a 17-16 lead going into halftime.

“We knew we had to win on all facets,” junior Reggie Harris said. “Special teams is one we were confident in because we worked so much during practice. It worked in our favor.”

After Ottawa got on the scoreboard first by driving down the field 92 yards for a touchdown, junior Tyler Hatcher answered with a 82-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. Later on in the first quarter, Harris added a 62-yard punt return for a touchdown to put the ’Cats up 14-7.

Head coach Mike Grossner believed the performance by the special teams unit in the first half was crucial considering the Baker offense came away with only three points on four possessions inside the red zone.

“Against a good football team, that will hurt you and we talked about it at halftime,” Grossner said. “We talked about it and looked at it as a positive and said, ‘hey, you’re up 17-16 on No. 10 in the country and hadn’t played well yet,’” Grossner said.

The offense had no trouble putting the ball in the end zone in the second half behind the rushing attack of senior John Babb, junior Kyle Rooks and sophomore Scott Meyer.

Meyer led the team by rushing for 150 yards and two touchdowns. Babb also broke the century mark with 110 rushing yards with a touchdown, while Rooks rushed for 88 yards on just five carries.

“It was huge for us as far as the running game was concerned,” Babb said. “We knew what we had going into the game, and we’ve been working at it all spring with our new offense.”

While the Wildcats offense wore down the Braves defense, the Baker defense did anything but wear down against the Ottawa offense.

Baker’s defense was anchored by senior Adam Steele, who earned the defensive player of the game with two interceptions and eight tackles. BU forced three other Ottawa turnovers and shut the Braves out in the second half.

The next challenge for the Wildcats comes in first-year HAAC foe Peru State College. The game will be the first HAAC matchup for both teams. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. Saturday at Liston Stadium.

The Bobcats went 4-7 last season and 1-1 against the opponents from the HAAC. Peru State defeated Culver-Stockton 24-14 in 2010, but fell to Benedictine College by the score of 28-0.