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Saturday, Apr. 30, 2016

Vikings face another Top 10 foe

Friday, September 21, 2012

Senior Demarcus Blackmon (50) and the Vikings' defense will try to stop Baker's strong run game during their second road game against a ranked HAAC foe.
(Chris Allen/Democrat-News)
For the second time this season, the Missouri Valley College football team has to go on the road to play a Heart of America Conference foe ranked in the NAIA Top 10.

That worked out well enough for the Vikings two weeks ago, with a 41-7 victory at then-No. 5 MidAmerica Nazarene. Saturday they head to ninth-rated Baker.

"Playing a ranked, undefeated team at their place is obviously a tremendous challenge," admitted MVC head coach Paul Troth. "This is a very good Baker team, maybe one of the best teams they've had in quite a while."

The Wildcats (4-0, 3-0 HAAC) do nothing special, but everything well. The offense has a nice balance between run (707 yards) and pass (835), scoring eight touchdowns each way.

Senior quarterback Sam Vossen is one of the nation's leaders in pass efficiency with a rating of 185.7, having only thrown two interceptions. The running back tandem of junior Dillon Baxter and freshman Jermaine Broomfield has amassed 572 yards in four games, with six TDs between them.

"They have some weapons," Troth said. "Our goal is always to make them one-dimensional. We don't want them to get the running game going."

Baker is 16th in the NAIA in scoring defense (16.0 points per game), although it has bent at times -- yielding 726 rushing yards and 680 yards through the air, allowing eight total touchdowns.

"They've always been one of the top defenses in the league," Troth conceded. "They do a good job getting off the blocks."

The 'Cats have also averaged 2.3 sacks per game, including 5.5 sacks on the season for sophomore defensive end Andre Jolly, and are ranked 22nd in pass defense efficiency (104.3).

"They're doing it with their defensive line primarily," Troth noted about Baker's four-man front. "They do it with a lot of twists and stunts."

Fortunately, Valley is back to full strength, all-America senior tackle Stephon Kelly having rested last week during a 55-6 victory over Avila.

If there's any doubting the 'Cats, though, is that it's perfect record has been established against a mediocre schedule. Although Ottawa (Kan.) was ranked in the pre-season poll, it has dropped off after going 1-2, and Baker's win was by a mere touchdown.

Last week, the 'Cats scraped by Central Methodist, 24-20, with 10 unanswered second-half points. Taking on the No. 5 Vikings (3-0, 2-0) will give Baker a stronger claim to legitimacy, and keep them atop the HAAC standings.

"You know it makes their year if they can pull off a win over a ranked team," Troth remarked. "They know they have to win those types of games, the same that we do."

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