Baylor Beats Kansas on Homecoming, 35-23

Reese vs. Kansas on Homecoming
Photo credit: Jerry Larson – AP Photo

The Baylor Football team (4-3, 2-2) has struggled mightily this season with a team full of young, mostly inexperienced athletes making their first collegiate starts. The Football roster has countless talent players poised to make an impact in the coming years, but their youth and lack of past participation has led to the three lost games so far this season (with two consecutive ones before this week, which you can read about here and here). Last Thursday’s dropped match up against West Virginia in Morgantown was a shocker to most Baylor fans as the Bears showed collective issues on both sides of the ball, while the previous games pinned some trouble mainly on the offense. Thankfully, even though Baylor’s current record isn’t what most anticipated prior to the season (expectations should’ve taken into account newness throughout the team and a loss of key starters like Jalen Pitre and Terrel Bernard), the Bears still kept their consistent winning record against Kansas on Homecoming weekend—totaling 11 consecutive victories over the Jayhawks and 5 on this specific weekend celebration! The same can’t be said about certain other non-Baylor, orange-themed schools in Texas who’ve lost to Kansas multiple times in the past several years. Baylor downed the Jayhawks (5-3, 2-3) 35-23 despite a tough comeback attempt in the second half, extending Kansas’ losing streak to 3 games. Sophomore QB Blake Shapen left the West Virginia game in the third quarter with a head injury, but he led the offense to a strong start and a final score that secured the game. Shapen 17 of 26 passing attempts for 164 yards with 1 TD and 2 interceptions. The Bears totaled 437 offensive yards (Kansas had 288 with only 56 coming from rushing attempts) on 40:10(!!!) of possession time and had 3 penalties for a loss of 30 yards while Kansas had 5 for a loss of 31.

Kansas got the ball to start first and the Bears’ defense came out quick and strong. 6th-year DL Cole Maxwell broke up Kansas QB Jason Bean’s first pass and junior DL Siaki Ika hurried Bean on 3rd down with senior S Al Walcott breaking up the pass to force a fast 3-and-out. The 30 mph winds caused the Jayhawks’ punt to travel only 14 yards, so the Bears started in Kansas territory on the 41-yard-line. Freshman RB Richard Reese rushed for 28 yards on 3 carries, junior RB Qualan Jones ran for 3 yards, and Shapen threw a 17-yard pass to sophomore WR Monaray Baldwin in the end zone for a TD with 5th-year K John Mayers’ extra point to go up 7-0. On the first play of the Kansas series, redshirt freshman LB Jackie Marshall forced and recovered a fumble at the Jayhawks’ 25. Q. Jones rushed for 11 yards and Reese finished with a 14-yard run to the house prior to Mayers’ kick for the Bears’ 14-0 lead within 4.5 minutes of the game. Sophomore CB Lorando Johnson broke up a Bean pass, but the 7:02 Kansas drive ended with a field goal to change the score to 14-3. Reese rushed for 16 yards on 2 carries while Shapen added 3 on the ground. Shapen completed a 14-yard pass to junior TE Drake Dabney and and 17 and 10-yard passes to 5th-year TE Ben Sims, closing the first quarter.

Continuing the drive, Reese rushed for 9 yards on 3 carries, 5th-year LB Dillon Doyle secured a first down on 4th-and-1 with a 4 yard rush, and Q. Jones ran for 3 yards. Redshirt freshman QB Kyron Drones entered the game for Shapen and ran a wildcat play with a 5-yard rush and 4-yard run into the end zone, increasing the score to 21-3 on Mayers’ extra point. The Baylor defense forced a 3-and-out, but after Reese’s 1 yard rush, Shapen’s pass was intercepted. Baylor’s defense held strong and forced a subsequent Kansas punt. Shapen rushed for 7 yards on 2 carries, Q. Jones rushed for 13 on 2 carries, and Reese ran for 28 yards on 5 carries. Shapen completed 4 passes of 16, 3, 12, and 10 yards to sophomore WR Hal Presley, redshirt freshman WR Josh Cameron, Baldwin, and Presley, respectively before freshman WR Jordan Nabors rushed for a 10-yard score on Mayers’ extra point to go up 28-3. Kansas’ first play ended with a forced fumble by junior S Devin Neal that redshirt freshman S Devin Lemear recovered and returned for 18 yards to the Jayhawks’ 14. Shapen rushed for 1 yard, threw an incomplete pass, and threw an interception to end the Bears’ drive at the end of the second quarter.

The Bears had the ball to start the second half and Reese rushed for 8 yards on 3 carries. Nabors rushed for 3 yards, Doyle rushed for another crucial 1st down with a 2-yard carry on 4th and 1, and Q. Jones added 8. Shapen completed passes of 7 yards to Cameron, 5 yards to 6th-year WR Gavin Holmes, and 9 yards to Sims. Shapen rushed for 6 yards, but was sacked for a huge loss and fumbled the ball, which a Kansas defender recovered and returned for 49 yards to the Baylor 9-yard-line. Within 3 plays, Kansas scored and made the score 28-10. Reese rushed for 19 yards on 3 carries and Shapen threw for 3 yards to Q. Jones on 2 catches and 2 yards to Holmes on 1. After an incompletion, the Bears punted for the first time in the game with 5th-year P Issac Power’s kick sailing 46 yards to the Kansas 5-yard-line. Walcott sacked Bean for a loss of 3 yards at the close of the third quarter.

Kansas scored at the start of the fourth quarter, but their 2-point conversion failed, leaving the score at 28-16. Reese rushed for 18 yards on 6 carries and caught a 12-yard pass. Shapen completed a 13-yard pass to Presley and Q. Jones ran for 25 yards, but Shapen’s nearly 2-yard rush on 4th-and-1 at the Kansas 7 was called short and the Bears turned the ball over on downs. Sophomore CB AJ McCarty broke up a Bean pass, but the Jayhawks scored another TD to shrink the score deferential to 28-23 with 6.5 minutes left to play. Q. Jones rushed for 8 yards on 2 carries, Shapen threw a 14-yard pass to Reese, and Reese rushed for 47 yards on 4 carries including a 2-yard rushing TD for the larger lead with Mayers’ kick, 35-23. 6th-year LB Bryson Jackson hurried Bean on 1st down and on 4th-and-11, senior DL TJ Franklin hurried Bean to set up junior DL Gabe Hall’s pass break up to seal the victory for Baylor.

6 Baylor athletes saw rushing attempts including Reese (31 carries for 186 yards and 2 TDs), Q. Jones (9 carries for 71 yards), Nabors (2 carries for 13 yards and 1 TD), Drones (2 carries for 9 yards and 1 TD), Doyle (2 carries for 6 yards), and Shapen (8 carries for a loss of 5 yards). 8 received passes including Presley (3 catches for 39 yards), Sims (3 catches for 36 yards), Baldwin (2 catches for 29 yards and 1 TD), Reese (2 catches for 26 yards), Cameron (2 catches for 10 yards), Holmes (2 catches for 7 yards), Q. Jones (2 catches for 3 yards), and Dabney (1 catch for 14 yards). In only 19:50 on the field, the Baylor defense amassed a season-low 36 tackles with 2 for a loss of 5 yards (Walcott, Lemear), 1 sack for a loss of 3 yards (Walcott), 2 forced fumbles (Neal, Marshall), 2 fumble recoveries with 1 returned 18 yards (Lemear, Marshall), 5 pass break ups (Walcott, McCarty, Hall, Maxwell, Johnson), and 3 QB hurries (Ika, Jackson, Franklin).

The Bears will travel to Lubbock to face Texas Tech (5-3, 2-2) on Saturday at 6:30 p.m. (CT).