With a playoff hope on the line for Peru State and a top playoff spot on the line for Baker University, the Wildcats roared in the second half of the game to claim a 38-13 victory.

With a playoff hope on the line for Peru State and a top playoff spot on the line for Baker University, the Wildcats roared in the second half of the game to claim a 38-13 victory.

Baker had led only 10-7 at the end of the first 30 minutes, but it was mostly all Wildcat action in the second half.

With the win, Baker claims at least a share of the Heart of America Athletic Conference (HAAC) title as their finished the season with an 8-1 conference record. Overall, the fourth-ranked Wildcats are now 10-1 and should be a first-round host in the NAIA playoffs.

With the loss, the 19th-ranked Bobcats dropped to 7-4 overall and 5-4 in the HAAC. The seven wins were the most since the 2009 Bobcat team. Peru State finished in a tie for fourth in the HAAC with MidAmerica Nazarene University, but won the head-to-head against the Pioneers earlier in the season.

First Half Action

The Bobcats took the ball to start the game and were forced into a three and out. Peru State's defense forced Baker into the same situation on their first possession and the Bobcats took over on their 33-yard line for their second possession.

After a three-yard loss on first down, fullback Ethan Bray (Liberal, Mo.) rambled up the middle for 17 yards and Peru State's first first down of the game. The Bobcats moved the ball down the field, primarily on rushing, but stalled at the Wildcats' 25-yard line. In a tough wind, Greg Conry (Harlan, Iowa) attempted a 42-yard field goal which went wide left. This was Conry's first field goal miss of the season.

Baker managed a couple of first downs on their next possession, but Peru State's defense stopped them again and took over on the Bobcats' 36-yard line. Peru State's next possession resulted in an interception on the third play of the drive and Baker took over in Bobcat territory at the 46-yard line.

Peru State's defense did hold the Wildcats to a field goal try which was successful from 24 yards out just into the start of the second quarter with 14:53 left in the half.

The Bobcats fumbled on their next possession, but Baker returned the favor two plays later, giving Peru State the ball on Baker's 43-yard line. After a couple of short gains rushing, a personal foul was called on Baker, moving the ball to the Wildcats' 22-yard line. The Bobcats were whistled for a false start, making it first and 15. After a two-yard gain by Bray, Marcus Spearman (Platte City, Mo.) took the handoff and went into the end zone from 25 yards out. After Levi Cockle (Lincoln) hit the point after, the Bobcats had their first lead of the game at 7-3 with 11:02 remaining in the second quarter.

After Conry got a touchback on the kickoff, Baker managed to pull off a 52-yard run which was eventually stopped by Logan Paben (Columbus). After getting three rushes for a first down, the Wildcats completed a 12-yard pass for a touchdown. The PAT was good and Baker regained the lead at 10-7 with 9:23 left in the half.

Again, the teams would trade two different possessions before Baker was driving with little time left in the half. The Wildcats were on the Bobcats' 18-yard line and attempted another pass which was intercepted by Bobcat Cody Sullivan (Roca) on the four-yard line.

Peru State would kneel down and the half ended with Baker leading 10-7.

Second Half Action

On Baker's second possession in the third quarter, after a first down rushing, the Wildcats completed a 43-yard touchdown pass to take a 17-7 lead with 11:06 remaining in the quarter.

Peru State managed a first down on their possession and then went for it on a fourth and two which failed. The Wildcats took over on their 48-yard line and eight plays later scored on a six-yard run. After the PAT, Baker led 24-7 with 4:22 left in the third quarter.

After the kickoff which Garret Campbell (Santee, Calif.) returned for 20 yards, Bobcat quarterback Tyler Audsley (Prescott Valley, Ariz.) found Nate Tromblee (Lincoln) on a pass that ended up going for 33 yards. After a short rush by Audsley, his next pass was intercepted and Baker took over on their 28-yard line.

Peru State forced a three and out on Baker's next possession and the Bobcats took over at their 43-yard line. Audsley found Lance Steffen (Murdock) for a ten-yard completion, getting the ball into the Wildcats' territory at the 47-yard line. Bray carried the ball for 14 yards for another first down. After a short rushing gain, Spearman rambled for 22 yards to set the Bobcats up on Baker's nine-yard line as the third quarter ended.

Bray had carries of three and five yards, placing the ball on Baker's one-yard line. After a loss rushing, Audsley threw to Steffen in the end zone and a penalty was called on the Wildcats for offensive pass interference. On the first play following the penalty, Bray scored on a two-yard touchdown rush. The snap for the PAT was high and the kick was blocked. But, with 12:56 left in the game, the Bobcats trailed 24-13.

On the next Wildcat possession, Baker drove the length of the field and scored, taking a 31-13 lead with just under ten minutes left in the game.

Peru State was forced to punt again on their next possession and Baker took just six plays to score again, making it 38-13.

The Bobcats mounted one last drive under the direction of senior quarterback Mitch Boshart (Wood River), but it stalled on Baker's 25-yard line. Three kneel downs later; Baker claimed their tenth win of the season.

Team Statistics

While some of the statistics were relatively close, including the time of possession, it was the big plays which propelled Baker to the win. Baker had 22 first downs compared to the Bobcats' 18.

Total yardage went the Wildcats' way as they gained 443 total yards with 274 of that coming on the ground and 169 through the air. For Peru State, the Bobcats had 224 yards rushing and 96 passing for 320 total yards.

Both teams lost one fumble, while Peru State was intercepted twice and the Bobcats picked off one Wildcat pass.

Offensive Statistics

Bray finished the game with 76 yards and one touchdown. Spearman added 48 yards while Audsley had 44 yards. In his only significant play of the year, Boshart gained 35 yards on just three carries.

Audsley was just seven of 18 for 76 yards and suffered one interception. Boshart was four of seven for 20 yards and also had one interception.

JD Faxon (Odell) and Ryan Twehous (Central City) each had three receptions for 15 and 11 yards respectively. Tromblee and Spearman each had two receptions while Steffen finished his final game with one grab.

Special Team Statistics

Conry punted five times averaging 37.2 yards per punt and kicked off three times, one of which was a touchback. Conry missed his only field goal try which was his only miss of the season.

Campbell had two kickoff returns for a total of 30 yards while Tromblee also had two for 23 yards.

Defensive Statistics

Zach Lempka (Sterling) led the Bobcats in his final game with 11 tackles – six solo. Lempka also had a tackle for a loss and recovered one fumble. Jon Draeger (Dunbar) added eight tackles – six solo and broke up one pass. Jake Kelley (Beggs, Okla.) and Sullivan each had seven tackles – five of which were solo. Sullivan added the lone interception for Peru State.

Another senior, Curtis Larsen (Plattsmouth) added six tackles, all of which were solo, and had one tackle for a loss. Briar Burr (Wood River) added five tackles – three solo.

Shane Lloyd (Ridge Crest, Calif.) had a tackle for a loss of seven yards while finishing the game with three total tackles. Lloyd also forced one fumble.