Baylor Is Bowl-Eligible With Win Over Oklahoma, 38-35

Williams in win over Oklahoma
Photo credit: Nate Billings – Associated Press

The Baylor Football team (6-3, 4-2) notched a 38-35 victory over Oklahoma (5-4, 2-4), winning in Norman for only the second time in program history led by an absolutely dominant performance by the offensive line and junior RB Craig “Sqwirl” Williams! After handing the Sooners their fourth loss of the season, the Bears became bowl-eligible for the fourth time in the last five years and for the second consecutive season. A few games ago, some Baylor “fans” proclaimed the Bears would never get to a bowl after giving up defeats to BYU, Oklahoma State, and West Virginia, but none of those thoughts rang true in our household! This Baylor team is young and saw the departures of veteran stars like S Jalen Pitre, LB Terrel Bernard, RB Abram Smith, and WR Tyquan Thornton to the pros over the offseason, so there’s still footing to be found on both sides of the ball. However, despite three losses (and two in conference play) in head coach Dave Aranda’s third year, the Bears could still be in the running for greater heights in the coming months should they continue their winning journey! Baylor showed their offensive line can dominate just about anybody when they’re playing in unison, having a revolving door of extraordinarily talented RBs is quite the treat (C. Williams averaged 7.7. yards per carry on a total career-high day with 25 carries for 192 yards and 2 TDs), and there’s nothing better than a commanding defense as the squad recorded 3 interceptions this week and 5 last week! Sophomore QB Blake Shapen completed 14 of 23 passing attempts for 132 yards and 1 interception and added 3 carries for 6 yards. The Bears totaled 413 offensive yards and had 6 penalties for a loss of 65 yards.

Oklahoma got the ball first and they scored on a 10-play drive to go up 7-0. A 37-yard kickoff return by freshman WR Jordan Nabors set the Bears up at their own 37-yard-line. Shapen completed passes of 9 yards to sophomore WR Hal Presley, 6 yards to 5th-year TE Ben Sims, and 16 yards to redshirt freshman WR Josh Cameron before freshman RB Richard Reese ran for 5 yards on 1 carry. C. Williams rushed for 27 yards on 5 carries, including an 11-yard rushing TD to tie the game at 7-7 on 5th-year K John Mayers’ extra point. On Oklahoma’s 3rd-and-4, 5th-year LB Dillon Doyle intercepted Sooners QB Dillon Gabriel’s pass and returned it 9 yards after senior DL TJ Franklin broke up the pass. Shapen completed a 17-yard pass to junior RB Qualan Jones, Reese rushed for 3 yards, and Nabors rushed for 6 yards into the end zone for a 14-7 lead with Mayers’ XP. Oklahoma quickly responded with a 3-play scoring drive to tie the game, 14-14. Shapen threw two incomplete passes, completed a pass to Presley for a loss of 2 yards, and rushed for 9 yards, but the Bears had to punt. Franklin notched a QB hurry before the end of the first quarter.

On the first play of the second quarter, redshirt freshman S Devin Lemear immediately intercepted Gabriel’s pass and returned the ball 31 yards. Reese and Nabors lost 3 and 5 yards apiece on their carries and Shapen threw an incomplete pass, but Mayers made a 49-yard field goal to give the Bears a 17-14 lead. The Baylor defense held strong on the Oklahoma drive and forced a turnover on downs at the Bears’ own 35. Baylor’s subsequent series was all C. Williams with the RB rushing for 51, 1, 12, and 1 yards including the last carry as a TD and Mayers’ made XP to increase the Bears’ 24-14 lead. Junior DL Gabe Hall hurried Gabriel, but the Sooners notched a TD of their own and decreased the point differential to 24-21. C. Williams rushed for 21 yards on 3 carries and Doyle added a 1-yard carry on 4th-and-1. Shapen connected with Cameron on a 20-yard pass, but the drive ended on OU’s 33 when Shapen’s pass was intercepted at OU’s 17 and returned to their 20. Baylor’s defense returned the favor as 5th-year S Christian Morgan intercepted Gabriel’s pass at Baylor’s 32-yard-line for the Bears’ 3rd pick of the day. Shapen’s first pass was incomplete, he was sacked for a loss of 6-yards, and his second passing attempt to Q. Jones lost 2 yards and the Bears punted for the second time. OU moved quickly in the last minute to try and nail a field goal, but their kicker’s 55-yard attempt was no good and Baylor went into halftime with a three point lead.

The Bears got their turn to start with the ball and Nabors rushed for 32 yards on the first play. C. Williams lost 6 yards on 2 carries, but Q. Jones gained 12 on 3. Shapen completed passes of 16 and 5 yards to Cameron and Reese, respectively, and Reese rushed for a 2-yard score and on Mayers’ XP, the Bears went up 31-21. Senior S Al Walcott broke up Gabriel’s pass and junior LB Garmon Randolph sacked Gabriel for a loss of 5 yards to force the Sooners to punt, but an Oklahoma player ran into 6th-year WR Gavin Holmes to give the Bears the ball back on a kick-catch interference penalty. C. Williams rushed for 5 yards on 2 carries and Shapen threw a 20-yard bomb to Cameron, however, the Bears were hit with an offensive pass interference penalty to put them on 3rd-and-20. Shapen’s 5-yard pass to Cameron wasn’t long enough, so Baylor had to punt. Oklahoma scored on their next drive, putting them at 31-28 2/3 into the third quarter. Shapen completed a 13-yard pass to Presley and C. Williams rushed for a loss of 1 yard. Two QB hurries on Shapen caused him to throw 2 incomplete passes and the Bears punted again. Oklahoma gained yardage with 3 first downs, but the Baylor defense forced them to punt as well.

C. Williams rushed for 30 yards on 4 carries and Shapen ran for 3 on 1 carry before completing a 15-yard pass to Cameron. Q. Jones ran for 32 yards on 4 carries including a 10-yard rushing score to give the Bears a 38-28 lead. The Sooners responded with a rushing TD to make the core 38-35 with 4:05 left in the game. C. Williams rushed for 4 yards on 2 carries, Q. Jones ran for 3 on 1 carry, and Shapen threw a 14-yard pass to Presley. In between both Oklahoma timeouts, C. Williams rushed for 4 more yards on 1 carry. On 3rd-and-3 at the 50 and only needing a first down, C. Williams rushed for 43 yards before sliding at the OU 7 to finish the game with the ball in Baylor’s hands.

6 Baylor athletes saw rushing attempts including C. Williams (25 carries for 192 yards and 2 TDs), Q. Jones (9 carries for 47 yards and 1 TD), Nabors (3 carries for 33 yards and 1 TD), Reese (4 carries for 7 yards and 1 TD), Shapen (3 carries for 6 yards), and Doyle (1 carry for 1 yard). 6 received passes including Cameron (career-high 5 catches for 72 yards), Presley (4 catches for 34 yards), Q. Jones (2 catches for 15 yards), Sims (1 catch for 6 yards), Reese (1 catch for 5 yards), and freshman TE Kelsey Johnson (1 catch for 0 yards). The defense amassed a season-high 87 tackles with 2 for a loss of 7 yards (Randolph, 6th-year LB Bryson Jackson), 1 sack for a loss of 5 yards (Randolph), 3 interceptions returned 40 yards (Doyle who had a career-high 15 tackles, Lemear, Morgan), 2 pass break ups (Walcott, Franklin), and 2 QB hurries (Hall, Franklin).

The Bears will finally return home to face No. 22 Kansas State (6-3, 4-2) on Saturday at 6 p.m. (CT).