The No. 11 Baylor Football team (9-2, 6-2) keeps improving and winning, notching their 9th victory of the season over Kansas State, 20-10, on the Wildcats’ senior night! And while every game is crucial and valued (read my recap of last week’s Baylor vs. Oklahoma game here!), the Bears showed more grit than ever yesterday with multiple starters—including junior QB and heart of the offense Gerry Bohanon—getting injured throughout the matchup. Kansas State (7-4, 4-4) is by no means an easy opponent and has always been a challenge for Baylor (especially in Manhattan) and Wildcats QB Skylar Thompson was one of, if not the top ranked QBs in the conference. Their star RB Deuce Vaughn plays like senior RB Trestan Ebner combining an enormous number of carries with almost equal catches. Despite encountering such a dangerous offense, the Baylor defense stepped up and greatly improved on the pass rush to prevent the explosive plays we all anticipated and probably feared. Much of the game’s credit goes to redshirt freshman QB Blake Shapen who came in at the end of the 2nd quarter and dominated on the passing game as if he’d been playing in every matchup this season. Because Baylor’s offense is so cohesive and OC Jeff Grimes utilized Shapen’s strengths, there wasn’t even a second of drop off in success or performance post-Bohanon. Bohanon completed 9 of 14 passing attempts for 76 yards and 1 TD and added 8 carries for 20 yards. Shapen threw for 16 of 21 attempts for 137 yards and ran for 44 yards on 5 carries. The Bears totaled 387 offensive yards (averaging about 4.1 yards per play) compared to Kansas State’s 263, but picked up 3 penalties for a loss of 25 yards.
The Bears started the game with a 3-and-out after senior RB Abram Smith rushed for 7 yards on 2 carries and Ebner added 4 yards, but a muffed Kansas State punt reception gave Baylor the ball back after redshirt freshman AJ McCarty recovered it at the Wildcats’ 24 yard line. Smith ran 6 yards, Bohanon completed passes to senior WR R.J. Sneed for 1 yard and Ebner for 2, and Bohanon rushed for 9 yards before Ebner ran the ball in the end zone on a 6-yard carry for the Bears’ first score of the game. Sophomore DL Gabe Hall sacked Thompson for a loss of 1 yard, senior LB Ashton Logan tackled Thompson for a loss of 4 yards, and junior DL Brayden Utley had a QB hurry to force the K-State punt. Baylor had another 3-and-out with Bohanon rushing for 2 yards before throwing an incomplete pass and being sacked for a loss of 8 yards. Junior DT Josh Landry sacked Thompson for a loss of 10 yards and Hall added a second QB hurry for the Wildcats’ consecutive punt. Bohanon’s first pass of the next drive was an incomplete intended for senior WR Drew Estrada before Ebner rushed for 14 yards. Bohanon completed a 10-yarder to senior WR Tyquan Thornton and was subsequently sacked for a loss of 12 yards. Bohanon’s 2nd and 22 play was an incomplete pass and he gained 7 yards on the ground, but a Baylor holding penalty at the end of the 1st quarter forced the Bears to punt on the following play.
Senior Jalen Pitre notched a tackle for a loss of 4 yards and when the Wildcats punted the ball back, a kick catch interference when Ebner was receiving pushed the Bears from their 11 to their 26. Smith rushed for 2 yards, Ebner lost 1, and Bohanon completed an 8-yard pass to Sneed. The Bears followed the same sequence again with Ebner carrying the ball 4 yards and Smith running for 2 before Bohanon connected with sophomore TE Drake Dabney on a 20-yard catch. Bohanon’s pass was incomplete to Thornton, but he completed a 9-yarder to Ebner and rushed for 4 yards. Smith rushed for 6 yards on 3 carries and Bohanon completed passes of 14 and 10 yards to junior TE Ben Sims and Thornton prior to Dabney’s 2-yard catch for a TD and Baylor’s 14-0 lead. The drive was, according to Baylor Athletics, the Bears’ longest of the season in plays (15) and time (7:21). In the next Kansas State series, sophomore DT Siaki Ika recorded a QB hurry and the defense forced a 3-and-out, but an offsides player during the punt gave the Wildcats the ball back and Vaughn immediately ran the ball 65-yards for their first score. Ebner and Smith ran for 11 and 2 yards apiece and Bohanon rushed for 7 and 11 yards before being injured on the second carry. Shapen went in and threw a pass to Ebner for a loss of 1 yard, but connected with Sims on a 7-yard pass. Ebner rushed for a loss of 2 yards and on 4th and 6 on the Kansas State 40, Shapen threw a 32-yard completion to Estrada. Shapen’s 4-yard pass to Sneed was complete and the Wildcats had a pass interference penalty to give the Bears 1st and goal on the 2 yard line. However, Smith lost 2 yards on the ground and Shapen threw an incompletion, so freshman K Isaiah Hankins nailed a 21-yard field goal to give the Bears a 17-7 lead going into halftime.
Baylor forced a 3-and-out on K-State’s first drive following junior LB Dillon Doyle’s pass break up. Shapen completed a 28-yard pass to Thornton, Smith rushed for 3 yards, and freshman WR Monaray Baldwin added 1 yard on the ground. Shapen threw a 4-yard pass to Sneed, but Ebner lost 1 yard on 4th and 2 to give the Wildcats the ball on their own 46. Junior CB Al Walcott broke up Thompson’s pass on 2nd and 10 and Kansas State had to settle for a field goal to go up 17-10. Shapen completed passes of 4 and 6 yards to Sims and Smith sandwiching his 4 yard rush. Smith added 4 yards rushing and Shapen completed a 12-yarder to Thornton, but Ebner fumbled the ball on a 3-yard gain, which the Wildcats recovered at their 41. Senior LB Terrel Bernard tackled Vaughn for a loss of 1 yard and senior LB Bryson Jackson’s QB hurry helped Doyle with a pass break up. Shapen threw 2 completions of 3 and 15 yards to Ebner and Thornton and had an incompletion. He threw 2 passes for 11 yards to Ebner, but had an incompletion toward Thornton. Shapen ran for 28 yards, passed for 7 yards to Estrada, and Smith recorded a 9-yard gain to close the 3rd quarter.
Opening the 4th quarter, Shapen completed a 3-yard pass to Ebner, had an incompletion, and was sacked for a loss of 4 yards, but Hankins made his 28-yard field goal to give Baylor the 20-10 lead. Hall sacked Thompson twice for a loss of 5 and 1 yards and when K-State attempted a 39-yard field goal, the ball sailed well outside the uprights to turn it over on downs. Shapen completed a 2-yard pass to Estrada before Smith and Ebner rushed for the rest of the series. Smith had 12 yards on 3 carries and Ebner added 32 on 2 carries, but Smith lost 10 yards on 4th and 1 to give the Wildcats the ball on their 43. Utley sacked Thompson for a loss of 5 yards and Thompson was badly injured 3 plays later. When Kansas State backup QB Jaren Lewis came in, he immediately threw an interception to Walcott who returned the ball 5 yards. Shapen rushed for 16 yards on 2 carries and Smith had 11 yards on 4 carries before Shapen knelt the ball twice to secure the 20-10 victory.
5 Baylor athletes saw rushing attempts including Ebner (11 carries for 66 yards and 1 TD), Smith (21 carries for 46 yards), Shapen (5 carries for 44 yards), Bohanon (8 carries for 20 yards), and Baldwin (1 carry for 1 yard). 7 received passes including Ebner (7 catches for 27 yards), Thornton (5 catches for 75 yards), Sneed (4 catches for 17 yards), Estrada (3 catches for 41 yards), Sims (3 catches for 25 yards), Dabney (2 catches for 22 yards, and 1 TD), and Smith (1 catch for 6 yards). The defense amassed 37 tackles with 8 for a loss of 31 yards (Bernard, Hall, Utley, Landry, Pitre, Logan), 5 sacks for a loss of 22 yards (Hall, Utley, Landry), 1 fumble recovery (McCarty), 1 interception returned 5 yards (Walcott), 3 pass break ups (Doyle, Walcott), and 4 QB hurries (Hall, Utley, Ika, Jackson).
No. 9(!!!) Baylor will send their seniors off in their final game of the season against Texas Tech (6-5, 3-5) on Saturday at 11 a.m. (CT).