Just like in the best fairy tales, the Baylor football team rallied back from a 10-point deficit against Oklahoma State to beat the Cowboys (5-4) 35-31 on a final second touchdown. After an incredible 58-14 defeat at No. 13 West Virginia last week, the Bears earned arguably their greatest victory of the Matt Rhule era. With this win, Baylor is now 5-4 (5th in the Big 12) and is one close step away from a bowl game! The Bears held the ball for 27:54 and lost the penalties game (!!!), collecting only six flags for 69 yards compared to the Cowboys’ 12 for 133. Senior transfer QB Jalan McClendon started the game, completing 10 of 17 attempts for 102 yards with one TD and one interception, while sophomore QB Charlie Brewer completed four of eight attempts for two TDs.
The Baylor offense steadily marched down the field in the opening drive with key passes to junior WR Marques Jones and freshman WR Josh Fleeks for 14 and 21 yards, respectively. Senior transfer WR Jalen Hurd added runs for eight, three, and two yards, and junior RB JaMycal Hasty rushed for seven, 13, and one yard, setting up an easy score before McClendon threw an interception in the endzone. On the Cowboys’ first play, senior DT Ira Lewis and junior LB/S Blake Lynch combined for a sack on QB Taylor Cornelius. Cornelius and RB Justice Hill added multiple rushes including the former’s six-yard run for a TD. McClendon threw passes to Hurd (seven and 10 yards) and freshman QB Gerry Bohanon in his first collegiate appearance (three yards) and rushes by Fleeks, sophomore RB John Lovett, and Hurd for 17, 11, and one yard, but two huge penalties against OSU (pass interference and face mask) couldn’t get the Bears a first quarter score. McClendon was sacked for the first time of the day and sophomore K Connor Martin finished the drive with a 26-yard field goal attempt, which he missed. The Baylor defense stepped up big time on the next Cowboys series, recording tackles by sophomore CB Raleigh Texada, redshirt freshman LB Terrel Bernard, Lynch, and sophomore DT James Lynch and junior DT Bravvion Roy’s first sack of the season, forcing an OSU punt. The end of the first quarter saw a 7-0 score in favor of Oklahoma State.
Oklahoma State’s defense stopped Baylor’s momentum going into the second quarter following a huge sack on McClendon to force a punt. The next OSU drive saw a textbook targeting penalty overturned after Cowboys WR Tylan Wallace obliterated defenseless senior S Verkedric Vaughns, leading to an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Matt Rhule when he protested the call reversal. Although Baylor fans and the team were outraged over the penalty on Rhule instead of Wallace, the Bears’ defense allowed their frustration to become their fuel- quickly tackling the OSU ball carriers and blocking the Cowboys’ field goal attempt. The offense capitalized on the defense’s work on the next drive as back-to-back penalties were called on OSU’s CB A.J. Green notched unsportsmanlike conduct and face mask flags to move the Bears downfield. A two-yard Hurd rush set up McClendon’s one-yard TD score, tying the game at 7-7. Oklahoma State’s K Matt Ammendola made up for his missed field goal by adding three points on a 19-yard attempt on their series. The Bears punted on their next drive and after quickly forcing an OSU punt, freshman S Christian Morgan blocked the kick (his second blocked punt of the season!) and sophomore RB Trestan Ebner scooped it up for an easy seven yard TD to close the half with a 14-10 Baylor lead.
The Bears forced a three-and-out on OSU’s opening series and although Baylor marched down the field on a series of McClendon and Hurd rushes, the drive ended when they faked a field goal and senior P/K Drew Galitz threw an incomplete pass to freshman TE Christoph Henle. Oklahoma State took the lead with consecutive TDs, gaining yards with runs by Cornelius and Hill, which set up two Wallace TDs. Brewer entered the game at the end of the quarter and on his first play, he handed the ball off to Lovett, who instantly juked a defender and ran the ball to the house for a 75-yard score. The third quarter ended with the Cowboys leading the game at 24-21.
Cornelius and the Cowboys held the ball for 6:17 in their fourth quarter opening drive, combining an even mixture of passes and rushes for a two-yard Hill rushing TD despite James Lynch recording his sixth sack of the season in the middle of the series. A.J. Green recorded another face mask penalty as the Bears got the ball back and LB Calvin Bundage had a personal foul flag, giving the Bears 30 extra yards. Brewer rushed for 14 yards and Lovett ran for nine before Brewer connected with Hurd on a 36-yard TD to tighten the Cowboys’ lead to 31-28 with three minutes left in the game. OSU notched two first downs but after a third down stop, junior S Chris Miller got his first career sack, pulling Cornelius back nine yards to turn the ball over on downs. With 1:31 left to play, Brewer ran for 13 yards and Ebner added a 16-yard run but none of Brewer’s passes connected until an OSU pass interference moved the Bears up to the eight yard line. Brewer threw two incomplete passes, but on third and goal with seven seconds left, he launched the perfect ball to junior WR Denzel Mims for a six-yard TD to win the game.
Baylor’s offense accumulated 402 yards with 244 rushing and 158 passing. Eight players saw rushing attempts: RBs Lovett, Hasty, and Ebner, WRs Hurd and Fleeks, and QBs McClendon, Brewer, and Bohanon with Lovett and McClendon finding the end zone. Six caught passes during the game including WRs Hurd, junior Marques Jones, Fleeks, and Mims, and RBs Ebner and Hasty as Hurd and Mims collected huge TDs. The defense totaled 78 tackles with five for a loss of 24 yards, four sacks for a loss of 22 yards (Miller, Blake Lynch, James Lynch, Lewis, and Roy), one fumble recovery (Hurd), three pass breakups (Texada, senior CB Derrek Thomas, and sophomore DE BJ Thompson), two blocks (Roy and Morgan), and one QB hurry (Thompson). The Bears showed incredible athleticism and perseverance throughout the game and with three winnable games left on the schedule, it looks like a bowl game is within reach! Now I’m going back to watching the last eight minutes of the game on repeat.
The Bears fly to Ames to face No. 23 Iowa State (5-3) on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. (CT).