Score: #23 Evangel 6, #7 Baker 26
Records: Evangel (7-4, 4-1); Baker (10-1, 4-1)
Location: Ozark, Mo. | Tiger Stadium
OZARK, Mo. – The No. 23-ranked Evangel Crusaders were unable to finish the 7th-ranked Baker Wildcats Saturday, falling 26-6 and sharing the Heart of America Athletic Conference Championship.
The Crusaders earn their first Heart Championship since 2005 and first South Division Title since the conference split into North and South Divisions. Evangel sits on the outside looking in as Baker earns the conference's certification and an automatic bid to the NAIA Football Championships Series. A finish in the top 20 of Sunday's final NAIA Top 25 could earn the Crusaders an at-large bid when the NAIA announces the field at 4 p.m. Sunday.
Opening the scoring, Baker drove 50-yards in five plays when JD Woods scampered 31-yards for the game's first score. It would be the only touchdown of the game until late in the third quarter as Baker connected on three field goals to build a 16-6 lead.
Evangel trailed 16-0 at halftime, but Derek Roberts connected from 34-yards to give the Crusaders their first points with 11:54 left in the third quarter. Roberts added a second field goal with 7:50 left in the third to pull Evangel within 16-6.
However, Baker answered on its next drive in just three plays. Marco Aguinaga found Clarence Clark for a 60-yard pass and catch to pull ahead 23-6. Evangel held four points shy of its lowest point total of the season after averaging 550 yards of offense and over 50 points per game.
A fourth field goal from Abram Garcia from 22-yards with 13 minutes left in the game pushed the score to its final, 26-6.
Josh Evans finished his afternoon with six tackles and 1.5 sacks as he moved into second place on the all-time Evangel sack list.
Cameron Hardesty finished 24-of-44 for 189 yards with Dallas Hester leading the receiving corps with eight catches for 71 yards. Chance Smith added five catches for 41-yards as the Crusader offense moved the ball all afternoon but was unable to find the end zone.
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