By KEVIN HARRIS
Asst. sports editor
Home field advantage worked its magic as the University defeated the Oklahoma Baptist Bison in a 34-3 blowout Sept. 28 in the Huskies’ first home game at Strake Jesuit College Preparatory’s Crusader Stadium.
The University’s defense took charge as the team was able to pick off Bison sophomore quarterback Cale Grauer four times.
The defense ran back two interceptions and a fumble for touchdowns as they accounted for 20 of the University’s 34 total points.
The Huskies only allowed 249 offensive yards from Oklahoma Baptist.
“I thought, defensively, it was the most consistent and dominating effort you’ll see over four quarters,” Huskies head coach Vic Shealy said.
“I think it is a great sign that we’re maturing as a football team when you have the mental toughness to not allow the opponent into your end zone.”
Huskies’ freshman quarterback Ka’Darius Baker completed 16-of-27 passes for 232 yards, including a game-high 40-yard pass to Huskies’ freshman wide receiver Wesley Lewis who finished with five catches for 92 yards.
The first quarter was a stalemate as neither team was able to score.
The first points of the game were scored in the last two minutes of the second quarter when Bison senior kicker Austin Manger kicked a 22-yard field goal, ending the first half 3-0.
The University’s first score of the game occurred in the third quarter when freshman linebacker Terrell Brown III returned an interception 26 yards for a touchdown, giving the Huskies a 7-3 lead over the Bison.
Oklahoma Baptist did not have a chance to take back the lead as Huskies’ freshman safety Najee Bissoon forced a fumble on the kickoff return. Huskies’ sophomore cornerback Ore Bankole returned the fumble to the Oklahoma Baptist 26-yard line.
This play resulted in a 5-play, 26-yard drive that ended with Huskies’ freshman running back B.J. Kelly scoring a 3-yard touchdown, giving the University a 14-3 lead to end the third quarter. Kelly finished with 55 rushing yards and two touchdowns.
A fourth-quarter comeback seemed unlikely for the Bison as Huskies’ sophomore linebacker Keith Ewing sacked Grauer, forcing a fumble.
The ball was recovered by Huskies’ freshman defensive end Kameron Lecoq and taken back 25 yards for a touchdown, which put the University up 21-3 with just under fifteen minutes left in regulation.
On the next drive, the Bison continued to struggle as Grauer threw another interception to Huskies’ freshman defensive back Taylor Thompson who returned the ball to the University’s 26-yard line.
A 12-play, 74-yard drive began and resulted in a three-yard touchdown run from Kelly, putting the University up 28-3 with just over seven minutes left in the game.
Freshman running back Craig Bell Jr. ran for 36 of his 58 rushing yards on this drive.
Freshman linebacker Garrett Dolan sealed the deal for the Husky win as he returned an interception 80 yards for a touchdown with seconds remaining on the clock.
After the game, Shealy shared his thoughts on the rest of the season. “You just have to take the games one at a time. We’ll come back on Monday, watch the tape, learn from it and grow as a program,” Shealy said. “My hope is that when we line up against Abilene Christian, we will be a better football team than we were tonight.”
The University is set to face future Southland Conference rival Abilene Christian University at BBVA Compass Stadium Oct.12 for its second-straight home game. This game will be televised on Comcast Sports-Net (CSN).
The Huskies will head back on the road Oct. 26 to face Incarnate Word in San Antonio.
“I’m excited because we have more focus on us as a university, and the pressure just makes us focus on the team more than ourselves,” Kelly said.