OTTAWA, Kan. - An opening week battle between NAIA top 20 teams lived up to its billing as #18 Baker came back from a 10-3 deficit to claim a 27-20 win over #11 Ottawa (Kan.), Saturday evening at Peoples Bank Field in the Heart of America Athletic Conference Game of the Week. Box Score | Postgame Quotes
A game that was also highlighted as the NAIA Game of the Week did not disappoint the standing room only crowd as a hard-fought game was not decided until two plays by the Baker defense broke open a game deadlocked at 13-13 with under 2:00 to play.
Baker looked like it was satisfied taking its chances in overtime after punting deep into Ottawa territory with 1:49 remaining in the 4th quarter. However, the shotgun snap on the first play from scrimmage went over the head of Ottawa quarterback Jacob Johnson. He attempted to kick the ball out of the end zone, but the ball did not reach its intended destination. Senior LB Ryder Werts pounced on the loose ball to shock the home fans and give Baker its first lead since the 8:13 mark of the opening stanza.
With three timeouts in tow and 1:49 remaining, Ottawa looked to have plenty of time to make carve out a potential game-tying drive. The Braves got one first down on a 23-yard pass to Jon Hilliger, but the next play brought another defensive touchdown for the Wildcats. Junior LB Emmerson Clarke stepped in front of Johnson's pass and raced 48 yards for the touchdown.
Ottawa strung together a 7-play drive over just 51 seconds to cut the two-score deficit in half, but Gunnar McKenna had no trouble recovering the onsides kick to let Vossen take a knee to finish off the victory.
Baker trailed 10-6 at the half after Steven Stewart had nailed field goals of 22 and 44 yards before Vossen hit Kyle Bolton on a 5-yard scoring pass at the 8:09 mark of the 3rd quarter for a 13-10 lead. Jeff Stamp connected on his second field goal of the game, a 25-yarder with 11:44 remaining, to tie the game at 13-13 and set up the late-game drama.
Ottawa outgained Baker for the game by a 390-321 tally, but the Braves turned the ball over four times that included the pair of late-game giveaways. Time of possession was almost identical with just six seconds separating the teams.
Vossen finished the game 9-of-22 for 129 yards and a TD with two interceptions after coming on just over five minutes into the game after Jake Morse, the HAAC Co-Offensive Player of the Year, suffered a knee injury on a scramble prior to the 22-yard field goal by Stewart. Junior RB Dillon Baxter, a transfer from USC, carried 23 times for 84 yards to lead the ground attack for the Wildcats while Bolton combined for 129 yards on just one rush and two catches.
Johnson completed 12-of-25 for 154 yards and a touchdown along with three interceptions for Ottawa (0-1), the defending Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference champions. Shane Gimzo also hit on 7-of-11 passes for 95 yards and a touchdown while also carrying 14 times for 52 yards. Michael Baer tallied 73 yards on 17 carries while Hilliger led the receiving corps with 8 catches for 64 yards.
Baker (1-0) opens conference play next Saturday, September 1 with a visit to Peru State (1-0) with kickoff at the Oak Bowl scheduled for 1:00 p.m.
Week One Recaps
Madison, S.D. - Peru State rushed for 423 yards and gave head coach Steve Schneider a victory in his debut as the Bobcats held on for a 35-27 win over Dakota State on Saturday afternoon at Trojan Field. The 423 yards were the most for the Bobcats since a 363-yard effort against Bethany (Kan.) on Oct. 14, 2006. Sophomore Ryan Ludlow had a pair of long scoring runs covering 66 and 86 yards while Bo Shepard also scored on runs of 57 and 37 yards. The victory was the first away from the Oak Bowl for the Bobcats since a 24-14 triumph at Culver-Stockton in October of 2010. Preston Bruss led the defense with 10 tackles, including three for loss, while Ryan McClarty had nine tackles and registered an interception.
#15 Grand View (Iowa) 26, Graceland 6 - Box Score
Des Moines, Iowa - Graceland outgained #15 Grand View by over 80 total yards, but converted just 7-of-19 third down chances in a 26-6 defeat to the Vikings at William Stadium. Matt Fink completed 19-of-38 passes for 247 yards to lead the Yellowjackets, who struggled on the ground with just 71 yards on 41 attempts. Raysean Brown led the receiving corps with 8 catches for 104 yards while Terrence Wells had 15 carries for 54 yards. Graceland took an early lead on a 24-yard field goal by Anthony Wood, but Grand View answered with a field goal of its own before a 71-yard pass from Derek Fulton to Taylor Goebel put the Vikings on top for good. Fulton and Dorian Ballentine combined to complete 8-of-15 passes for 166 yards and two TDs.
#13 Benedictine 45, Concordia (Neb.) 37 - Box Score
Seward, Neb. - Benedictine scored 28 second-half points and shook off 14 penalties to hold off Concordia (Neb.) for a 45-37 victory at Bulldog Stadium. The Ravens took the lead just before halftime on a 37-yard field goal by Zach Keenan and added two early third-quarter scores to build a lead they would use to hold off a pesky Bulldogs squad. Bill Noonan was an efficient 16-of-21 under center for the Ravens, throwing for 188 yards and a touchdown with one interception. Cameron Fore carried 23 times for 102 yards and two touchdowns, the second coming at the 14:28 mark of the 4th quarter to build a 38-23 lead. Kevon McGrew scored from six yards with 11:14 to play before Concordia battled back with two late touchdowns.