Baylor Falters 43-40 at West Virginia

Gavin Holmes at West Virginia
Photo credit: KWTX

In a much higher-scoring game than any fans expected, Baylor (3-3, 1-2) dropped their second consecutive Big 12 game with a tight 43-40 loss at West Virginia (3-3, 1-2) after the bye week. With the Baylor loss, West Virginia has now won all six matchups with the Bears in Morgantown and leads the challenge record 7-4. The Bears greatly improved on offense against the Mountaineers compared to Oklahoma State’s demolition two weeks ago (watch my dad’s and my reactions to the game here!), but not even a stellar performance by sophomore QB Blake Shapen could bring the victory back to Waco. Of course no win is ever guaranteed in the Big 12 and especially not this year, but West Virginia looked far more challenging in this week’s performance than in the previous weeks. And while the offense seemed to find their stride at the season’s mid-mark, Baylor’s defense struggled to stop both the pass and rush game on the other side of the ball and the special teams faltered on a few game changing plays. Shapen played through the middle of the third quarter when he went out with a head injury and in that time, he completed 14 of 22 passing attempts for 326 yards and 2 TDs along. After Shapen exited the game, redshirt freshman QB Kyron Drones completed 7 of 14 passing attempts for 95 yards with 1 TD and 1 interception. The Bears totaled more offensive yards than West Virginia with 590 to the Mountaineers’ 500 and the former only recorded 2 penalties for a loss of 12 yards.

The Bears got the ball to start the game and immediately went 3-and-out after junior RB Craig “Sqwirl” Williams ran for 2 yards and Shapen rushed 3 before throwing an incomplete pass to junior TE Drake Dabney. With little pressure from the defense, West Virginia moved 65 yards for a TD to go up 7-0. Freshman RB Richard Reese rushed for 7 yards on 3 carries and junior RB Qualan Jones had 16 yards on 3 carries. Shapen completed passes of 23, 17, and 12 yards to Dabney, sophomore WR Monaray Baldwin, and Q. Jones, respectively. Shapen threw two incomplete passes and was sacked for a loss of 4 yards, so 5th-year K John Mayers made a 40-yard field goal for a 7-3 score. The Baylor defense forced a West Virginia punt and before the end of the first quarter, Shapen threw a 7-yard pass to Dabney and C. Williams rushed for an 18-yard gain.

Shapen opened the second quarter with a 56-yard connection with 6th-year WR Gavin Holmes. Reese rushed for 3 yards and 5th-year TE Ben Sims ran 1 yard into the end zone for a TD and a 10-7 score with Mayers’ made extra point. 5th-year S Christian Morgan broke up a pass by West Virginia QB JT Daniels to force a 3-and-out. Shapen completed a 14-yard pass to Sims, a 21-yarder to Dabney, and a 35-yard pass and TD to Holmes for the Baylor 17-7 lead following Mayers’ good extra point. Sophomore LB Brooks Miller and sophomore CB Lorando Johnson each broke up Daniels’ passes, but the defense allowed 69 yards and a West Virginia score over 6.5 minutes for the 17-10 differential. Reese rushed for 5 yards and Shapen threw a 46-yard pass to Holmes, but Shapen was sacked for a loss of 9 yards and fumbled the ball, which a Mountaineers defender recovered and ran back to the Baylor house for a scoop and score—quickly tying the game at 17-17. C. Williams ran for 5 yards, Reese rushed for 12, and Shapen threw a 4-yard pass to Dabney. Shapen’s subsequent pass was incomplete, but he connected with C. Williams on a 39-yard pass for a 24-17 lead with Mayers’ extra point. Senior DL TJ Franklin broke up a Daniels pass on West Virginia’s 3-and-out. Shapen threw a 20-yard pass to Holmes and rushed for 5 yards before the end of the second quarter.

Junior LB Matt Jones broke up a Daniels pass on the Mountaineers’ first drive, but the series ended with a score to tie the game up at 24-24. Reese rushed for 27 yards on 4 carries before Shapen completed a pass of 7 yards to sophomore WR Hal Presley and a 25-yarder to Q. Jones, but when Shapen carried the ball 3 yards, he was targeted by a West Virginia defender and Shapen exited the game with a head injury. Drones came in to hand the ball off to Q. Jones who rushed for 4 yards on 2 carries. Drones threw an incomplete pass on 3rd and goal and on 4th and goal, Drones threw a 2-yard pass to Presley in the end zone with Mayers’ extra point for Baylor’s 31-24 score. The Mountaineers scored on their next series to tie the game again at 31-31. Reese lost 1 yard on a carry, but Drones threw passes of 25 yards and 20 yards to Baldwin and Holmes, respectively to close the third quarter.

Drones threw an 18-yard pass to Holmes and Q. Jones rushed for 12 yards on 2 carries with a 4-yard TD, but Mayers’ extra point was blocked and the Mountaineers’ recovered the ball and ran it back for a safety, so the score ended at 37-33. Junior DL Siaki Ika hurried Daniels and the Baylor defense forced West Virginia to turn the ball over on downs at Baylors’ own 45. Baldwin rushed for 20 yards and Q. Jones rushed for 7, but Q. Jones fumbled the ball and the Mountaineers recovered it at their 28-yard-line. The Mountaineers traveled 72 yards in less than 2 minutes for a TD and a 40-37 lead. Drones threw passes of 11 yards and 15 yards to Dabney and Holmes, respectively. Q. Jones rushed for 5 yards on 2 carries and Reese added 8 yards on 1 carry, but when Drones was hurried, he threw an interception. West Virginia’s Daniels immediately threw an interception to 5th-year LB Dillon Doyle on 1st down to the Mountaineers’ 26. Reese lost 4 yards on 1 carry, Drones threw a 4-yard pass to Sims, and Drones’ next pass was incomplete, so Mayers made a 44-yard field goal to tie the game 40-40 with 1:33 left to play. M. Jones broke up Daniels’ pass, but the Mountaineers made a field goal for the 43-40 lead with 27 seconds on the board. Drones threw two incomplete passes and rushed for 24 yards on 2 carries to finish the game.

7 Baylor athletes saw rushing attempts including Reese (13 carries for 57 yards), Q. Jones (10 carries for 44 yards and 1 TD), C. Williams (3 carries for 25 yards), Drones (2 carries for 24 yards), Baldwin (1 carry for 20 yards), Sims (1 carry for 1 yard and 1 TD), and Shapen (5 carries for a loss of 2 yards). 7 received passes including Holmes (7 catches for 210 yards and 1 TD), Dabney (5 catches for 66 yards), Baldwin (2 catches for 42 yards), Q. Jones (2 catches for 37 yards), Sims (2 catches for 18 yards), Presley (2 catches for 9 yards and 1 TD), and C. Williams (1 catch for 39 yards and 1 TD). The defense amassed 77 tackles with 4 for a loss of 5 yards (5th-year CB Mark Milton, junior DL Gabe Hall, 6th-year LB Bryson Jackson, Franklin, Ika, sophomore LB Tony Anyanwu, redshirt freshman LB Tyrone Brown), 1 interception returned 2 yards (Doyle), 6 pass break ups (Morgan, Franklin, M. Jones, Johnson, Miller), and 1 QB hurry (Ika).

The Bears will return home to face No. 19 Kansas (5-1, 2-1) for Homecoming on Saturday at 11 a.m. (CT).