The Baker Wildcats' season and senior defensive end Landon Decker's career came to an end during a 33-23 loss Saturday against Saint Francis (Indiana) in the NAIA quarterfinals. Last time they played each other, Saint Francis defeated Baker 38-17 for the 2016 national championship.
Saint Francis outscored Baker 20-6 in the second quarter Saturday, after the first when Baker led 7-0. The Wildcats outgained Saint Francis 336-308 overall, but three turnovers (two fumbles, one interception) and two turnovers on downs proved costly.
Decker made one unassisted tackle in the loss.
Baker finished with a 9-3 overall record.
On the season, Decker finished with 54 tackles (31 solo, 23 assist), 21.5 tackles for loss, 13 quarterback sacks, four pass deflections, and two forced fumbles, including one that was returned for a touchdown in the playoff win against Bethel (Tennessee).
After this week's playoff games, Decker ranked fourth nationally in total sacks, fourth in total tackles for loss, fifth in sacks per game (1.1), eighth in tackles for loss per game (1.8), and 31st in forced fumbles per game (0.2).
Kansas Wesleyan's Shaq Bradford leads the nation in sacks with 21 and tackles for loss with 34. The Coyotes (13-0) remain alive in the playoffs and play fellow Kansas school Benedictine next in the semifinals.
Decker twice earned Heart of America Athletic Conference defensive player of the week honors during his senior season and he was nominated for the national defensive POTW award twice in Week 7 and Week 11.
Decker made four sacks and six tackles (including four for loss) in the critical win against Evangel that earned Baker its fourth straight divisional title. That was one of his POTW performances, and the four sacks tied a Baker school record.
Recently, Decker earned a spot on the Google Cloud College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) Academic All-District Team. Decker's name advanced to the Academic All-America Team ballot and the first, second, and third teams will be named in December.
Decker could join eight other former Baker student-athletes in becoming an All-American, including his former football teammate Logan Brettell.
The all-district selections comprised student-athletes from Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin schools; 26 were chosen all-district, including eight from the HAAC.
Decker has earned a 3.51 GPA majoring in criminal justice.
Over his four-year career, Decker finished with 99 tackles (66 solo, 33 assist), 18 sacks, 40 tackles for loss (152 yards), five pass breakups, and one interception. The 6-foot-2, 225-pound Neosho High graduate made the majority of those plays his junior and senior seasons after his conversion from linebacker to defensive end.