What a Homecoming, right, Baylor fans? The Bears (6-1, 3-1) faced the No. 19 BYU Cougars for the first time since 1984 and they exceeded all expectations to earn bowl eligibility and defeat an angry one-loss non-conference opponent. Baylor wasn’t fazed by the matchup however, and continued their dynamic offensive and violent defensive efforts they showed in their incredible 45-20 victory over West Virginia last week (read my recap here and watch the game with me and my dad in this TikTok!). Two of the most impactful players and corps in the Bears’ 38-24 win over BYU (5-2) were Baylor’s offensive line and junior LB/FB extraordinaire Dillon Doyle who was the first athlete in program history to record a receiving TD, rushing TD, and sack in the same game! OC Jeff Grimes drew up an even playbook with both the receivers and runningbacks getting the ball and the aggressive defensive line holding BYU to just 67 rushing yards and their star back Tyler Allgeier accruing just 33 yards on 15 carries. The Bears’ best stat of the day was their first time in program history without recording an accepted penalty. Compared to their 9 penalties for a loss of 100 yards against Iowa State a few weeks ago, this improvement in discipline is remarkable. Junior QB Gerry Bohanon completed 18 of 28 passing attempts for 231 yards with 1 TD and his first interception of the season (he previously completed 190 attempts without an interception) and he added 3 carries for 10 yards. The Bears totaled 534 total offensive yards with an average gain of 7.1 yards per play.
The Bears received the ball first to open the game and went through a quick 3-and-out as Bohanon completed a 6-yard pass to senior WR R.J. Sneed and consecutive incompletes to Sneed and senior WR Drew Estrada, the first of which was broken up. Baylor’s defense stopped BYU from scoring on their first drive, holding the Cougars to 8 yards on 3 plays. When the Bears got the ball back, senior RB Abram Smith ran for 7 yards and junior TE Ben Sims gained a 1st down with a 27-yard catch. Bohanon threw incompletes to sandwich Smith’s rush for 4 yards before Bohanon connected with Sneed on a 20-yard pass. Smith rushed for 16 yards on 3 carries and Bohanon added 1 on the ground at 3rd and 5 on the BYU 7, but on 4th and 4, he threw his first interception of the season in the endzone. On BYU’s second play of the series, senior S Jalen Pitre sacked QB Jaren Hall for a loss of 12 yards and tackled the receiver for a loss of 4 yards on the subsequent play, so the Cougars had to punt. The Bears went fully pass-reliant in their final drive of the first quarter with Bohanon completing 4 consecutive throws to Sneed for 12, 6, and 4 yards, and Smith for 7 yards. Bohanon threw incomplete passes to Sims and senior RB Trestan Ebner before completing a 4-yarder to Sneed to set up freshman K Isaiah Hankins’ 31-yard field goal, giving the Bears a 3-0 lead.
At the beginning of the 2nd quarter, sophomore LB Garmon Randolph notched a QB hurry, but the Cougars quickly scored a TD to take the lead, 7-3. Ebner rushed for 14 yards on 2 carries and Bohanon added a 14-yard completion to senior WR Tyquan Thornton. Smith rushed for 31 and 3 yards, Ebner gained 4, and Smith finished the drive with a 9-yard run into the endzone and a Baylor 10-7 lead. Despite Hall’s 45-yard pass, senior LB Bryson Jackson sacked him for a loss of 6 yards and BYU’s kicker missed a 50-yard field goal to turn the ball over at Baylor’s own 33-yard-line. Bohanon completed passes of 9 and 23 yards to Thornton and Sims, respectively, and Ebner rushed for a 9-yard gain. Smith ran for 18 yards on 2 carries, senior WR Josh Fleeks added 6 on the ground, and junior LB Dillon Doyle went in at FB to rush for a 2-yard TD—the first rushing score of his career—and Baylor’s lead increase to 17-7. Junior K Noah Rauschenberg executed a perfect 12-yard onside kick he recovered at the Baylor 47 so the Baylor offense stayed on the field. Smith rushed for 2 and 4 yards, Bohanon completed a 14-yard pass to Thornton, and Ebner gained 6 yards on 2 possessions. Smith rushed for 3 yards on 3rd and 4, but after timeouts by Baylor and then BYU, Bohanon couldn’t gain the extra yard needed for a 1st down, and the Bears turned the ball over on downs at BYU’s 24. Baylor’s defense forced a quick BYU 3-and-out, and Bohanon’s final incompletion of the 2nd quarter ended the first half with Baylor on top, 17-7.
Pitre notched a QB hurry early in the 3rd quarter, but BYU scored with a long run on a QB keeper to inch closer to Baylor, 17-14. Smith rushed for 13 yards on 2 carries and added a 7 yard catch before running for 38 more yards. Ebner gained 6 and lost 2 on the ground and Bohanon rushed for 9 yards. Smith rushed for 5 yards on 1st and goal and Doyle added his second TD of the day with a 2-yard catch—his first receiving TD of his career—giving Baylor a 24-14 lead. Junior DL Brayden Utley notched a QB hurry, junior TJ Franklin sacked Hall for a loss of 9 yards to force a fumble that Pitre recovered to give Baylor the ball back. Bohanon launched a 45-yard bomb to Thornton and Smith added rushes of 6, 9, and 7 yards with the last one for a Baylor score and a 31-14 lead. Randolph added another QB hurry during the BYU drive that forced the Cougars’ punt. Smith rushed for 3 yards and Bohanon targeted Thornton twice with 1 incomplete and 1 2-yard gain before punting the ball away. Senior LB Terrel Bernard ended the third quarter with a Hall sack for a loss of 4 yards.
The combination of junior CB Al Walcott and senior CB Raleigh Texada stopped a Hall pass (lol?) that would’ve been a TD with a pass breakup and Doyle sacked Hall for a loss of 11 yards to force BYU to kick a field goal and take a 31-17 score. Most of the Bears’ subsequent series were rushes with Ebner rushing for 65 yards on 4 carries, Estrada adding 5, and Smith gaining 9 on 4 possessions before Bohanon passed to Sims for 2 yards on 2nd and goal. Smith gained 0 on 3rd and goal, but punched the ball through the endzone on 4th with a 1-yard score and a 38-17 Baylor lead. BYU scored their final TD of the game with 1:50 left and attempted an onside kick, but Baylor recovered the ball and knelt it 3 times to secure the 38-24 win.
6 Baylor athletes saw rushing attempts including Smith who rushed for career highs in yards, carries, and TDs and according to Baylor Athletics, earned the most rushing yards for a “Baylor player in a single game since Shock Linwood had 237 at Iowa State October 1, 2016” (27 carries for 187 yards and 3 TDs), Ebner (11 carries for 95 yards), Bohanon (3 carries for 10 yards), Fleeks (1 carry for 6 yards), Estrada (1 carry for 5 yards), and Doyle (1 carry for 2 yards and 1 TD). 6 received passes including Sneed (6 catches for 72 yards), Thornton (5 catches for 84 yards), Sims (3 catches for 52 yards), Smith (2 catches for 14 yards), Ebner (1 catch for 7 yards), and Doyle (1 catch for 2 yards and 1 TD). The defense amassed 43 tackles with 5 for a loss of 41 yards (Pitre, Bernard, Doyle, Franklin, Jackson), 5 sacks for a loss of 41 yards (Pitre, Bernard, Doyle, Franklin, Jackson), 1 forced fumble (Franklin), 1 fumble recovery (Pitre), 2 pass breakups (Texada, Walcott), and 4 QB hurries (Pitre, Randolph, Utley).
The Bears have their first bye-week of the season on Saturday, but will face Texas in Waco on October 30 with kickoff TBD.