SHAWNEE — With the exception of a few archived statistics from back in the day, just about everything Oklahoma Baptist did Saturday was a school best.
Or, in some cases, a school worst.
Southwestern (Kan.) turned five of six turnovers into 19 points and beat the Bison 26-22 in OBU's first varsity football game in 73 years. A standing-room-only crowd of 5,609 at Hurt Field grilled under an afternoon sun and saw OBU almost pull off its first win in football since the end of the 1940 season.
But Chris Mayer had field goals of 27, 20, 19 and 26 yards. And Southwestern quarterback Tyler Crandall added a 2-yard touchdown run as the Moundbuilders from Winfield, Kan., recovered from a 15-0 deficit.
“I haven't had the opportunity to process it all yet, but our guys' effort was phenomenal,” OBU coach Chris Jensen said. “Our guys were put into some tough situations, their backs were against the wall. But they made some critical plays when we needed them.”
The crowd had barely sat down from the pregame ceremony — which included the introduction of Luke Toyebo, a running back from the 1940 team — when OBU scored on its first and third offensive snaps. Quarterback Cale Grauer found Derek Serowski behind the secondary both times for 69- and 19-yard touchdowns.
“We wanted to come out and set the tone, and we got in a situation we wanted to be in to start the game,” said Grauer, a sophomore from Claremore who transferred from Division II Missouri Western. “Derek, with his speed, he was able to get open and get us a couple of touchdowns.”
Grauer finished 11 of 23 for 203 yards. He added a 37-yard TD pass to Turner Coon early in the third quarter to help give Oklahoma Baptist a 22-16 lead.
But the final stat sheet showed three interceptions for Grauer and two more by backup quarterback Blake Woodard. Throw in Grauer's fumbled snap, and the mistakes were too much to overcome.
The good news was OBU's defense held the Moundbuilders to four field goals instead of touchdowns, which gave the Bison a chance to win the game at the end.
“I thought our defense played phenomenal,” Grauer said. “They had a lot of young guys, freshmen, come up with some big plays for us. We just have to correct our mistakes, like the turnovers.”
Oklahoma Baptist had one more crack with the football with 3:44 left in the game. Pinned at his own 1-yard line, Jordan Barnes ripped off a 29-yard run and later added a 2-yard plunge on fourth-and-2 to the OBU 40. That's where Southwestern's defense delivered, pressuring Grauer into two incomplete passes, a sack and finally a Kaman Holt interception on fourth-and-long with 53 seconds left.
“Between weeks 1 and 2 is when you see a lot of improvement, and I think we'll see that from our guys,” Jensen said. “They gave great effort and attacked — our goal is to put the best product out on the field, and we didn't do that today. But we just have to press on and get better.”