The Baylor Football team opened conference play with a massive showing of grit, drive, and talent after a difficult first half of play. The Bears (3-0, 1-0) overwhelmed Kansas (1-2, 0-1) with a 45-7 victory and their 12th consecutive win over the Jayhawks in as many years. Offensive Coordinator Jeff Grimes showed off his playcalling handiwork with multiple athletes finding their way to the endzone and even two scores from both a TE and a Fullback (TE playing at the FB position). The Bears continued their habit of beating themselves with unnecessary penalties (they collected 5 for a loss of 45 yards) and turnovers (2 from a pair of the team’s most senior starters and contributors), but their offense continues to shine in all its newness and consistency. Junior QB Gerry Bohanon still looks like he’s never felt anxious in his life and completed 19 of 23 passing attempts for 269 yards and 2 TDs and 5 carries for 33 yards and 1 TD. Sophomore QB Jacob Zeno came in late during the fourth quarter and added 1 carry for 5 yards (and a perfect bullet pass that almost was—it was dropped by a subbed-in receiver). The Bears notched 576 total offensive yards—more than 3x that of Kansas’ 166 yards and showed exceptional success on the ground game as Baylor Athletics’ Jerry Hill (papa) notes “With Saturday’s 307 yards on the ground, Baylor leads the Big 12 and ranks in the top five nationally in rushing offense, averaging 323.3 yards per game and 7.3 per carry. The Bears topped last year’s rushing total midway through the third quarter of Saturday’s game and have 970 already through just three games.”
Baylor got the ball first to start the game and amassed 4 1st downs in the first drive. Senior RB Abram Smith—who launched his 3rd consecutive week with over 100 rushing yards—rushed for 17 yards on 2 carries before senior RB Trestan Ebner added 6 yards and 11 yards on the ground. Smith rushed for 4 more yards and Bohanon completed 3 consecutive passes to senior WR R.J. Sneed for 19 yards, senior WR Josh Fleeks for 6, and junior TE Ben Sims for 14 and the first TD of the game, giving Baylor the 7-0 score. The Baylor defense quickly forced a 3-and-out and Ebner returned the Jayhawks’ punt 86 yards for a TD, but the play was nullified by a holding penalty in the backfield. The Bears slowly chucked away at their yardage away from the endzone as Smith rushed for 19 and 7 yards, a Baylor holding penalty knocked them back 10, and Bohanon connected with Sims on a 9-yard pass. Ebner rushed for 23 yards on 2 carries, Smith lost 1 on 2 carries, and Bohanon passed a 6-yard ball to Fleeks before Bohanon’s perfect pass to Sneed was fumbled and taken by Kansas to their own 46 yard line. Luckily, Kansas’ second play of the drive resulted in a 23-yard loss after a horrible high snap that sent the ball flying over QB Jason Bean’s head. Kansas punted the ball on 4th and 26 and Ebner returned it 50 yards to the Jayhawks’ 39. Bohanon’s first play of the last first quarter drive was a 20-yard bomb to senior transfer WR Drew Estrada, closing the first 15 minutes with a 7-0 score.
Bohanon opened the second quarter with a 10 yard rush, Smith added 7 on the ground, and the Bears brought in freshman TE Gavin Yates at the FB position for a 2-yard rushing score. At 13:46, Baylor went up 14-0. Kansas moved the ball into Baylor territory, but senior CB Raleigh Texada’s QB hurry ended their drive and forced a punt. Ebner rushed for 10 yards prior to Bohanon’s consecutive passes of 11 and 12 yards to senior WR Tyquan Thornton. Ebner lost 2 yards rushing and Smith gained 6, but Bohanon’s next pass to Thornton was broken up and the Bears had to punt the ball away for the first time in two weeks. Baylor earned a pass interference penalty that shouldn’t have been in the Jayhawks’ next drive that ultimately ended in their first score of the game, 14-7. Bohanon completed a 4-yard pass to Sims, but his next two passes were incomplete and the second quarter ended with the Bears up only one score.
With the Bears nowhere near where they wanted to be and Kansas getting the ball first, the Baylor defense came out firing and quickly forced a 3-and-out. Bohanon’s first play of the Bears’ drive was a 69-yard bomb to Sneed for an easy TD and a 21-7 Baylor lead. Senior S recorded a QB hurry and junior DL TJ Franklin added a pass breakup for another Kansas punt. Smith rushed for 15 yards on 3 carries to sandwich Bohanon’s 7-yard pass to Sims. Bohanon connected with Fleeks for 21 yards and Thornton for 8 yards before Smith rushed 5 yards and a 4-yard score. By the 9 minute mark in the third quarter, the Bears were up 28-7. The defense forced another Jayhawks punt to give Bohanon and co. the ball back and another chance to score. Bohanon rushed for 10 yards, completed a 19-yard pass to Sneed, and freshman WR Monaray Baldwin ran for a 2-yard gain. Ebner rushed for 10 yards on 2 carries, but he fumbled the ball after rushing for 5 yards and Kansas recovered at their own 32. Senior Terrel Bernard hurried Bean and senior S Christian Morgan broke up a 4th and 8 pass, forcing Kansas’ turnover at the Baylor 43 yard line. With one minute left in the third quarter, Smith ran for 11 yards, Bohanon missed Sims on a pass, and Smith rushed for 28 yards to the Kansas 18.
Opening the fourth quarter already close to the redzone, Ebner rushed for 7 and 2 yards before Bohanon ran the ball in for a 9-yard TD and a 35-7 Baylor lead. Sophomore DT Siaki Ika broke up Bean’s 3rd down pass, so the Jayhawks quickly punted again. The Baylor staff pulled their rushing starters out up 4 scores, so sophomore RB Taye McWilliams alternated with Bohanon on rushing attempts. McWilliams ran for 12 yards on 3 carries and Bohanon added a 6-yard ground gain. Bohanon recorded a 10-yard pass to Sneed, 5-yarder to sophomore TE Drake Dabney, and another 10-yard ball to Sneed. Yates caught an 18-yard pass and McWilliams added his second career TD on a 20-yard run and score, securing the final Baylor TD of the game. Kansas notched 2 1st downs, but their 2nd and 9 play ended with a fumble forced by sophomore S Devin Neal and recovered by senior DT Cole Maxwell for the first Kansas turnover of the day at their own 37. Sophomore RB Craig ‘Sqwirl’ Williams lost 3 yards on the ground, Zeno had an incomplete pass, and rushed for 5 yards to set up freshman K Isaiah Hankins’ perfect 48-yard FG to bring Baylor’s score up 45-7. Baylor’s defense forced the final 3-and-out of the game and on offense, Baldwin rushed for 14 yards and McWilliams added 22 yards on 2 carries before time expired.
9 Baylor athletes saw rushing attempts including Smith (16 carries for 122 yards and 1 TD), Ebner (12 carries for 72 yards), McWilliams (12 carries for 72 yards and 1 TD), Bohanon (5 carries for 33 yards and 1 TD), Baldwin (2 carries for 16 yards), Zeno (1 carry for 5 yards), Williams (1 carry for 3 yards), Yates (1 carry for 2 yards and 1 TD), and Sneed (1 carry for 0 yards). 7 received passes including Sneed (6 catches for 128 yards and 1 TD), Sims (4 catches for 34 yards and 1 TD), Fleeks (3 catches for 33 yards), Thornton (3 catches for 31 yards), Estrada (1 catch for 20 yards), Yates (1 catch for 18 yards), and Dabney (1 catch for 5 yards). Baylor’s defense struggled a little throughout the game, amassing only 39 tackles with 4 for a loss of 6 yards (senior S Jalen Pitre, sophomore LB Matt Jones, Neal, junior LB Dillon Doyle), 1 forced fumble (Neal), 1 fumble recovery (Maxwell), 3 pass breakups (Morgan, Franklin, Ika), and 3 QB hurries (Pitre, Bernard, Texada).
Baylor returns home for a matchup against No. 14 Iowa State (2-1, 0-0) on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. (CT).