William Penn Suffers Rough Second Half in Loss to Baker

OSKALOOSA — The Statesmen football team could not keep pace in the second half of Saturday’s home opener as it fell to #13 Baker 34-14 in a Heart of America Athletic Conference crossover game.

Early on it looked like the matchup was going to be all defense as William Penn (0-2) and Baker (2-0) were scoreless through one quarter of play.

In the second quarter, the Statesmen special teams was able to break the tie.  In what would already be the third field goal try for the Wildcats, Sectric Cleveland (Fr., Carver, Ga., Undecided) darted around the end and blocked the kick.  The freshman then scooped up the ball and dashed 55 yards to paydirt for a 7-0 lead with 8:22 left in the half.

The Wildcats unfortunately responded right back to knot the score at 7-7 at intermission.

BU then took the opening kickoff of the second half and marched down the gridiron for a 14-7 lead, one it would not relinquish.  The following drive for the WPU offense ended in a punt, and Baker capitalized on a short field to score again, pulling out to a 21-7 edge midway through the third.

The Statesmen got back into the fight, courtesy of a well-orchestrated drive by backup quarterback Sterling Ramsey II (Fr., Tulsa, Okla., Business Management).  The freshman took the navy and gold 79 yards in 14 plays, capping the possession with a two-yard rushing touchdown.  Ramsey was 7-for-16 for 91 yards.

On the next drive, however, the Wildcats pushed the advantage back to double figures at 28-14.

With time against them in the fourth quarter, the Statesmen then turned the ball over on downs, but the defense came up with a huge goal line stand in the final minutes, forcing a fumble that was recovered by Zenin Hall (Jr., Chicago, Ill., Business Management).

Unfortunately, Ramsey was sacked in the endzone and fumbled the pigskin.  A Wildcat defender fell on the ball to cap the night’s scoring.

The Statesmen were outgained 407-142 Saturday, including tallying 103 yards through the air.  DJ Johnson (So., Marion, Ark., Business Management) topped the receiving corps with four catches for 41 yards.

Jagger Blubaugh (Jr., Wichita, Kan., Exercise Science) paced the defensive effort with 12 tackles, while Harlan Plumber (Jr., Bryan, Texas, Exercise Science) also reached double figures with 11 stops.  Howard Huerta (So., Panaroma City, Calif., Sports Management) added nine tackles of his own.

“Tonight, we showed the kind of fight that represents the team we have,” Head Coach Todd Hafner said.  “We went toe-to-toe with one of the best teams in the country.  Our defense and special teams played great tonight and our offense will continue to improve.  The defense was on the field way too much and it took a toll, but we will get back to work tomorrow and get prepared to play and earn a win next week.”

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