The Bears do it again! Bouncing back from their 33-66 defeat at Oklahoma last week, Baylor notched a 37-34 comeback victory against Kansas State yesterday. Going 4-2 on the season and 2-1 in Big 12 play, the Bears are already showing vast improvements from their 2017 1-11 record in head coach Matt Rhule’s first year. The offense totaled 557 yards as they kept the ball for 34:14, fumbling the ball three times, but converting Kansas State’s turnovers into 21 points. QB Charlie Brewer completed 30 of 44 pass attempts for 296 yards and one TD with one interception. (Tiny shoutout to Kansas State Head Coach Bill Snyder aka grandpa/my biggest sports hero ever!)
The Baylor offense struggled immensely throughout the first quarter as Kansas State’s defense held them to one FG. Brewer connected with senior transfer RB Jalen Hurd and senior WR Chris Platt for 12 and 8 yards, respectively, to land two first downs, and junior RB JaMycal Hasty added five additional rushes to the KSU 18-yard line, but they Bears only managed a FG by sophomore K Connor Martin to finish the series. Kansas State responded with a huge 55-yard TD run by RB Alex Barnes, scoring in only two minutes. A 16-yard pass to Platt and trio of rushes by sophomore RB Trestan Ebner moved Baylor into Wildcats territory, but Martin ultimately missed the 50-yard FG attempt. Sophomore DT James Lynch recorded his fourth sack of the year on Kansas State’s next possession, grabbing Thompson for a loss of eight yards. Sophomore LB Jalen Pitre came up with a monster tackle for a loss of six yards on fourth down, leading to a KSU fumble, which was recovered by the Wildcats offense. Baylor moved down the field to the Kansas State 23-yard line, but the first quarter ended with a 7-3 score in favor of KSU.
After three consecutive pass incompletions into the second quarter, the Bears added more points to board with a 28-yard FG by Martin. The Wildcats’ offense barely moved downfield when Baylor sophomore S Jairon McVea intercepted QB Skylar Thompson’s pass on his first career pick and returned it for three yards to the KSU 43 yard line. A few successful rushing attempts, including a 14-yard first down run by freshman RB Craig “Sqwirl” Williams in his first appearance of his career, set the Bears up for a scoring run, and Brewer delivered- running in the endzone for a three-yard TD, but Martin missed the extra point. The Bears led 12-7 shortly into the start of the third quarter. On KSU’s next series, sophomore DE BJ Thompson sacked QB Thompson for a loss of nine yards on third down, recording his second sack of the season. Brewer’s pass on possession was intercepted by DB Duke Shelley in the Bears’ territory, leading to a 34-yard rushing TD by Barnes. Brewer was sacked again on the next series before a strange pass attempt by Ebner was intercepted by DB Kendall Adams for a KSU touchback. As the Wildcats tried to move out of their backfield, LB/S came up with a huge sack on third down, for a loss of 10 yards. Brewer was sacked on the Bears’ first drive and a trio of Ebner runs and catches by junior WR Marques Jones, Platt, and Hurd moved the Bears into medium-distance FG position, but Martin missed another kick, this time from the 38-yard line to finish the half at 14-12, Kansas State.
The Wildcats received the ball on the second half opening kick, but junior S Chris Miller forced a fumble, which he recovered at the KSU 19-yard line. Ebner rushed for 18 yards into the redzone and Hurd added a one-yard run for the score. Rhule opted for a two-point conversion instead of an extra point, which led to a successful pass to Platt for the points addition. Back-to-back missed FGs by both Kansas State and Baylor completed the third quarter with a 20-14 score as the Bears took the six point lead.
Kansas State came storming back on kickoff as Barnes broke tackles and sped downfield for a 48-yard rushing TD to tie the game at 20-20. Thompson blocked the extra point, which sophomore CB Harrison Hand tried to recover. Brewer was sacked yet again in Baylor territory, and after the Bears traded the ball with the Wildcats, QB Thompson found a hole and ran through for a 52-yard TD run. The Bears stayed on pace in their next series, mixing up mid-length passes and rushes before junior WR Denzel Mims made an unbelievable 21-yard catch for the score. Freshman S Christian Morgan intercepted Thompson’s pass on the following series for the first pick of his career on his first start. A 13-yard pass to Hurd and 18-yard rush by Hasty led to C. Williams’ first career TD on a 21-yard run, giving Baylor a 34-27 lead. KSU’s Barnes responded with a trio of rushes for 3, 24, and 15 yards and Thompson connected with WR Dalvin Warmack on a 28-yard TD to tie the game up with four and a half minutes left in the game. The Baylor offense went to work, eating up four minutes on the clock and moving downfield without hurrying. Brewer hit Hasty, Hurd, and Mims for extra yardage and the former two added short runs as the Bears tried to move as close to the end zone as possible in case the time only allotted for a FG. With only 12 seconds left in the game, Martin launched a 29-yard kick perfectly between the uprights and Baylor took the 37-34 lead as the crowd went wild. Kansas State had one remaining chance to score with one second left, so Thompson ran across the field, looking for an open man, but junior LB Jordan Williams made a huge tackle to secure the Baylor win.
Four of Baylor’s players caught passes throughout the game: WRs Mims and Platt and RBs Ebner and Hurd, with Hurd taking one in the end zone for a score. Ebner, Hasty, Hurd, and C. Williams all had carries and Williams’ 21-yard TD was his first ever. Ebner notched 100 rushing yards and Hurd had 135 receiving. The defense totaled 47 tackles with six for a loss of 36 yards, three sacks (Lynch, Thompson, and Black) for a loss of 27 yards, one forced fumble (Miller), two interceptions (Morgan and McVea) for a loss of one yard, two pass breakups (sophomore CB Raleigh Texada and freshman WR Kalon Barnes), one block (Thompson), and two QB hurries (J. Williams and Thompson). Miller and J. Williams led the defense in tackles with eight and seven apiece. The Bears also improved significantly on penalties with only two for a loss of 10 yards. The pass rush and special teams still need significant work, but the Bears continue improving each week. For now, another Big 12 win means celebrations are in order!
Baylor travels to Austin as they challenge No. 18 Texas (5-1) on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. (CT).