MOUNT PLEASANT, IOWA — Two interceptions, three fumbles, a blocked punt, and yellow flags at inopportune times. Not a typical Baker outing on the gridiron or a typical Baker result.
The Wildcats were their own worst enemy, losing to Iowa Wesleyan, 21-13, Saturday in NAIA football.
"It was a game in which we never did get into sync," coach Charlie Richard said. "Every time we put something together, it would seem we would mess up in one way or another."
The Tigers led 21-7 in the fourth quarter before Baker cut the deficit to 21-13 at 5:16 on a Doug King two-yard run. After Iowa Wesleyan went four-and-out, Joel Thornton returned an 80-yard punt for an apparent touchdown.
But a clipping call brought the Wildcats and their comeback bid back to the Tiger 30-yard line. Quarterback Tim Sheldon marched Baker to the IWU 45, only to be picked off.
"We had penalties after penalties every time we had a big play," Richard said.
THE WILDCATS, ranked ninth in NAIA Div. II, fall to 1-1. Iowa Wesleyan, a NAIA Div. I team, gains it first victory of the season.
"It was a nonconference game, but we felt we should have won this game," Richard said. "But we lost to a good club; but they weren't as tough as we thought they'd be."
The Wildcats opened the game driving to the Tigers' 20, but missed a 35-yard field goal. IWU proceeded to take a 7-0 lead on a 13-yard touchdown run by Wayland Rucker, who finished with 125 yards on 28 carries.
Baker retaliated on a 76-yard touchdown bomb from Sheldon to Gary Greenwood. Sheldon unloaded for 298 yards, completing 25 of 37 attempts, tying his own BU record for completions.
However, Sheldon was intercepted twice by the Tigers' defense, his total for the entire season last year.
"He had a great day aside from the turnovers," Richard said. "But with Jimmie's (Rose) leg bothering him and being double-teamed anyway, Gary's got to step up. We need to give (Matt) McAtee the ball more and let Joel (Thornton) get some more catches."
GREENWOOD FINISHED with 141 yards on four catches, while Rose hauled in 12 receptions for 87 yards.
Greenwood almost had another touchdown, snagging a 45-yard pass from Rose. But the wideout coughed up the ball at the Tiger 25, ending another Baker threat.
Baker looked to have gotten a big break in the second half. Iowa Wesleyan quarterback Ronnie Ashton, who passed for 179 yards, left the game in the third with an injury. But backup Brian Murphy connected with Chris Oepping for the receiver's second touchdown with 12:25 left in the fourth, boosting the lead to 21-7.
"We feel if we hold our opponents to 21 points, we're going to win the game," said Richard. "We stopped their running game when we needed to and had a couple of stands in the end zone. But we needed to get in sync offensively."
The Wildcats will play host to William Jewell for homecoming next Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at Liston Stadium.