SPRINGFIELD, MO. When Baker quarterback Ian Page was sacked on the first play of the game, Evangel's fans might have thought it was going to be an easy day.
Well, no and yes.
The Wildcats had Evangel worried for much of the game, But Baker's long-odds victory bid fell to pieces. The Crusaders scored 23 points in the fourth quarter and cruised to a 46-17 victory.
Baker head coach John Frangoulis said his team was up to the challenge, but let it slip away.
"We prepared our self well, but you have to play 60 minutes," Frangoulis said. "We came out in the second half and self-destructed, made mistakes. You just can't do that against a good team."
The Wildcats went toe-to-toe with Evangel in the first half. They answered a Crusaders' touchdown by blocking the point-after, then marching down the field for a field goal.
Their next drive started near midfield. Baker moved 53 yards in six plays, with Cedric Colbert finding the end zone as the first quarter ended to put the Wildcats up 10-6.
"We did something we had to do in the first half, and that was keep them off-guard," Frangoulis said.
Baker was driving near the end of the half , leading 10-9 when Rob Winfrey had the ball stripped from him at the Baker 40-yard line. On the next play, Evangel quarterback Eric Black found John Dollar for a touchdown. But the point after was blocked again. So Baker went into the locker room trailing 15-10.
The Wildcats continued to give Evangel trouble in the third quarter. A partially-blocked punt gave them the ball at the Crusaders' 41-yard line. Baker quarterback Ian Page moved them within striking distance, finding Sean Frazier for a 21-yard gain, then carrying the ball twice to put them on the Evangel six-yard line.
Colbert took it in again to put Baker back on top 17-15.
Despite his two touchdowns, Colbert had his string of 100-yard games snapped at three.
"He got banged up today, but he did a good job. He had the flu all week," Frangoulis said. "If you can run like that against this team that's saying something."
Baker held Evangel on their next possession, forcing another punt.
Things went downhill from there.
Evangel got the ball back late in the third quarter. Two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties on the Wildcats helped the Crusaders move the ball and take a 23-17 lead when Black threw a 10-yard pass to Jason Myers.
Evangel scored on every drive after that. Black ended the day with four touchdown passes and 354 yards passing.
"He takes a deep drop, and he's a big kid, so he can see a lot of things downfield," Frangoulis said.
Frangoulis said the defense, which was on the field most of the second half, had trouble keeping up.
"We kind of had that fatigue factor," Frangoulis said. "They're so big up front, they wear on you after awhile."
Evangel 46, Baker 17
Baker 10 0 7 0 -- 17
Evangel 6 9 8 23 -- 46
EC -- Brandon Schmidly 7 pass from Eric Black (kick failed)
BU -- Brandon Simpson 33 FG
BU -- Cedric Colbert 1 run (Simpson kick)
EC -- Eric Apgar 30 FG
EC -- John Dollar 39 pass from Black (pass failed)
BU -- Colbert 6 run (Simpson kick)
EC -- Jason Myers 10 pass from Black (Myers pass from Black)
EC -- Schmidly 59 pass from Black (run failed)
EC -- Apgar 27 FG
EC -- Caleb Cox 5 run (Apgar kick)
EC -- Brian McNabb 14 run (Apgar kick)