Score: #9 Evangel 7, #14 Baker 19
Records: Evangel (9-2, 2-2); Baker (8-2, 4-0)
Location: Baldwin City, Kan. | Liston Stadium
BALDWIN CITY, Kan. – Billed as a heavyweight bout, 9th-ranked Evangel and 14th-ranked Baker lived up to the championship hype.
Unfortunately for Evangel football, it was the Baker Wildcats taking advantage of a pair of turnovers to pull out a 19-7 victory on Saturday. Baker improved to 4-0 in the Heart South Division to win the outright South Division Championship.
The Crusaders and Wildcats went toe-to-toe with both teams coming up scoreless in the first quarter. At halftime, it was just a 7-0 lead for Baker after a pick-six returned from 37-yards out dotted the scoreboard as the game's only score.
With 17 total punts, eight for Evangel and nine for Baker, the Crusaders continued to battle tying the game at 7-7 with 8:29 left in the third quarter when Cameron Hardesty found Jansen Acklin from 25-yards out for the score.
However, Baker pulled ahead to cap a 12-play, 73-yard drive when Baker quarterback Marco Aguinaga found the end zone from six yards out. The Wildcats would never relinquish the lead going up 16-7 recording a safety when a punt pinned the Crusaders inside the 2-yard line.
The Evangel defense continued to battle late in the second half coming up with two fourth-down stops and sacking the Baker single caller, six times for 42 yards. Jacob Eden and Sam Morton each finished with 12 tackles, while Eden added an interception.
Senior defensive end Telacey Wilder also had an afternoon with 11 tackles, 2.5 sacks, 4.5 tackles for a loss and a forced fumble.
Neither team was able to find a rhythm offensively, as Evangel finished with 231 yards of total offense and Baker tallied 235 yards.
The Crusaders finished with 175 yards through the air as Hardesty was 12-of-26 with one touchdown. Finding six different receivers, Dallas Hester and Trey Talley each led the way with three catches apiece, Hester for 28 yards and Talley for 25.
JD Wood carried 31 times for 92 yards for Baker, while quarterback Aguinaga finished 13-of-28 for 126 yards.
Evangel will wait to find its postseason fate on Sunday at 4 p.m. when the NAIA Football Championship Series announces its 16-team field. The show will air on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/PlayNAIA. at 4 p.m. (CST) as the Crusaders will vie for an at-large bid.
For the latest information on Evangel Athletics, follow the Crusaders on Facebook at Facebook.com/EUAthletics or go to www.EvangelAthletics.com. Fans can also receive updates on the team by downloading the Go Evangel Front Row App at EvangelAthletics.com/FrontRow available on Google Play and in the App Store.