Baker football advances in NAIA playoffs with wild 59-54 win over Olivet Nazarene

photo by: Photo courtesy of Baker University Athletics

Baker wideout Tyjuan Lewis cruises into the end zone for a touchdown during the Wildcats' 59-54 win over Olivet Nazarene in the opening round of the NAIA Football Championship Series on Saturday, April 17, 2021 in Baldwin.

The Baker University football team won a shootout on Saturday over Olivet Nazarene, 59-54 in the first round of the NAIA Football Championship series in Baldwin.

It marked the first game for Baker football since Nov. 26 and moved the Wildcats to 7-0 on the season, which started last September and featured six postponements and six regular season games.

The win also moved the Wildcats into the second round, where they will face Morningside College on Saturday in Sioux City, Iowa.

Baker running back JD Woods, a former Lawrence High standout, led the BU offense with 258 yards and five touchdowns on 32 carries.

Woods passed the 5,000-yard mark for his career in the victory and also moved into 10th place on the NAIA’s all-time rushing list.

BU quarterback Marco Aguinaga threw for 167 yards and two touchdowns, with Nate Pauly leading the team in receiving with 100 yards on six receptions.

In all, Baker’s offense racked up 484 yards while Olivet Nazarene recorded 444 yards of total offense.

Despite the video-game final score, both teams actually got off to a slow start on Saturday. Both offenses stalled on their opening drives and neither team reached the end zone until Woods’ 52-yard touchdown run with 5:27 to play in the first quarter put Baker up 7-3.

That broke the seal and Woods added another TD in the second quarter just before Tyjuan Lewis caught one of Aguinaga’s two TD passes. A 43-yard field goal from BU kicker Devin Derousse with 31 seconds to play in the first half tied the game at 24 heading into halftime.

Woods scored from 35 yards out on Baker’s first offensive play of the second half and scored again a few minutes later to give the Wildcats a 38-31 lead. But Olivet scored the final 10 points of the third quarter and took a 41-38 lead into the fourth quarter.

Aguinaga quickly put BU back on top, first with a TD strike to tight end Brennen Feeback and then on a quarterback keeper that gave the Wildcats a 52-47 lead.

Woods’ fifth TD of the day came with 4:23 to play and it gave the Wildcats their only real cushion of the entire game, 59-47.

Olivet Nazarene scored with 42 seconds to play but the Wildcats recovered the ensuing onside kick to end the game.

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