Whereas the first two games of the Baylor season showed the Bears’ incredible strides made over the off season, the Baylor vs. Rice game was the exact opposite. I often criticize fans who don’t stay for entire games or who only support their teams when they’re doing well, but I have to admit it was extremely difficult to watch the entirety of Baylor vs. Rice because the Bears looked like a completely different team from their showings over the past two victories. Despite an inconsistent offensive performance, however, the Baylor defense showed up for the majority of the game and stopped Rice from scoring as many points as they should have. Junior QB Charlie Brewer completed 20 of 27 passing attempts for 303 yards and 1 TD and also had 12 carries for 58 yards and 1 TD. The Bears had three turnovers and finished with 427 yards, but continued increasing their penalties to 6 for 60 yards.
The Bears (3-0) opened the game with a rough offensive showing as Brewer was sacked in the first three minutes and they finished their first drive with a missed field goal. They bounced back in the second drive with Brewer connecting with sophomore WR R.J. Sneed for 2 yards and senior WR Denzel Mims for 15 before junior RB John Lovett ran 11 yards on three carries. Mims caught a huge 35-yard pass and senior RB JaMycal Hasty rushed for 21 yards prior to sophomore WR Josh Fleeks’ 6-yard rushing TD. On the following Rice drive, the Baylor defense stopped their momentum when senior DT Bravvion Roy forced a fumble, which senior DE James Lockhart recovered at the Rice 43 yard line at the end of the first quarter.
After the Baylor offense took the field thanks to Lockhart’s effort, Lovett fumbled the ball and the Owls (0-4) recovered at their own 35. Rice finished the drive with a 28-yard field goal to inch closer to Baylor at 7-3. The offense relied heavily on their passing efforts on their next possession as Brewer opened with a 9-yard pass to Mims, a 10-yarder to sophomore WR Tyquan Thornton and an 11-yard pass to Mims again before Hasty ran for 9 yards and Brewer added one more. Senior WR Chris Platt finished the drive with a 50-yard TD catch. The Baylor defense forced another three and out, but when the offense returned to the field, Lovett fumbled the ball again and Rice recovered at the Baylor 25 yard line. While the Owls pushed closer to the Baylor end zone, junior DT James Lynch’s agility led to a sack that set up Rice’s second missed field goal, this time at 44 yards away. With only 44 seconds left in the half, Brewer again relied on his receiving corps– passing to Mims for 19 yards, Platt for 14, and Thornton for 16 before keeping the ball for a 25-yard rushing TD to close the second quarter at Baylor 21-3.
The Bears’ rushing game suffered in the third quarter, which was evident by junior Trestan Ebner’s inability to gain more than 2 yards per run. However, Thornton caught a 44-yard pass to move the Bears up field, but Brewer was sacked for a loss of 6 yards and he fumbled the ball, which Rice’s defense picked up at their 39 yard. Rice ate up over six and a half minutes on their next drive, which they finished with a 24-yard field goal. The Bears were unable to compete offensively at the end of the third quarter and punted the ball away.
Baylor and Rice punted back and forth for the first two drives of the fourth quarter before the Owls scored their first TD of the day on a 21-yard rush, leaving the score at Baylor 21-13. A pair of James (Lockhart and then Lynch) sacks forced the Owls to punt on their next drive and neither team scored again, so the game was over at 21-13.
6 Baylor athletes saw rushing attempts, including Brewer (12 carries for 58 yards and 1 TD), Hasty (7 carries for 39 yards) Ebner (7 carries for 10 yards), Lovett (5 carries for 9 yards), Platt (1 carry for 5 yards), and Fleeks (2 carries for 5 yards and 1 TD). Seven received passes including Mims (6 catches for 102 yards), Platt (5 catches for 85 yards and 1 TD), Thornton (3 catches for 70 yards), Sneed (3 catches for 24 yards), sophomore TE Christoph Henle (1 catch for 11 yards), Hasty (1 catch for 6 yards), and Ebner (1 catch for 5 yards). Baylor’s defense amassed 64 tackles with 8 for a loss of 28 yards, 3 sacks for a loss of 16 yards (Lockhart, Lynch), 2 forced fumbles (Roy, sophomore CB Kalon Barnes), 1 fumble recovery (Lockhart), 5 pass breakups (senior LB Clay Johnston, junior CB Raleigh Texada, Lockhart, senior CB Jameson Houston), and 2 QB hurries (Lockhart).
Baylor will face Iowa State in Waco on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. (CT).