In arguably my favorite game this season, the Bears defeated the Longhorns for the first time in five years and secured a trip to the Big 12 Championship game! While I try to remain slightly neutral and refrain from adding personal commentary to my recaps, this game required a short anecdote. I was lucky enough to work in the Baylor athletics department during 2016-2018 and a large portion of that time occurred during one of the most tumultuous periods in school history. The football team finished with a 1-11 record in 2017 and received hate and vitriol from Baylor fans, sports analysts, journalists, and regular people across the country almost every day. Because of their losing record, the attendance at McLane Stadium for senior day that year was abysmal and the athletes watched their four year highlights on the big screen with few fans in the stands. It was heartbreaking to watch then and absolutely crazy to see how quickly the team has bounced back from a devastating period till now. And while I would have loved to work in the department and be a student in such a remarkable time as this, I’m thankful to have played a small part in supporting the football team when their fan base was severely limited. Miraculously, the team went from 1-11 to 10-1 within just two years and are on track to continue winning in the next three games! And now back to regularly scheduled blogging. Junior QB Charlie Brewer completed 16 of 25 passing attempts for 221 yards and 1 TD. The Bears recorded 1 turnover and finished with 391 yards and 5 penalties for 35 yards.
The Bears got a quick start on offense (similar to that of their first half performance against Oklahoma last week) with junior RB John Lovett immediately recording a first down on an 11-yard rush, but senior WR Chris Platt closed the drive with a fumble following his 44-yard catch. Baylor’s defense stepped up on Texas’ possession and didn’t allow the turnover to turn into points. Neither team’s offense moved the ball downfield enough to score and the first quarter finished with a 0-0 tie.
Recovering from the first 15 minutes of lackluster offensive play, Lovett started the second quarter with a 28-yard rushing TD to give Baylor the 7-0 lead. Baylor seniors DE James Lockhart and LB Jordan Williams combined to sack Texas QB Sam Ehlinger for a loss of 2 yards, forcing a punt on the Longhorns’ first drive. The Bears punted the ball away on their own series, but the defense forced a Texas three and out after senior LS(!!) Ross Matiscik recorded a sack for a loss of 1 yard. Brewer found his receivers on multiple plays at the 8 minute mark including sophomore R.J. Sneed on two catches for 21 yards, Platt on 2 catches for 16 yards, and senior RB JaMycal Hasty for 4 yards, but the QB was sacked for a loss of 7 yards, forcing the Bears to punt. On Texas’ drive, the Longhorns once again were stuck in their own territory after sophomore LB Terrel Bernard sacked Ehlinger for a loss of 8 yards. The Bears punted the ball away on their own possession and Texas’ one huge play of the day (a 68-yard rush) led to the Longhorns scoring on a 48-yard field goal to close the second quarter at 7-3.
The Longhorns had the ball first to open the second half, but junior DT James Lynch sacked Ehlinger for a loss of 5 yards (and set a school record for sacks with 18!!). On Baylor’s next possession, Brewer threw 20-yard and 26-yard passes to senior WR Denzel Mims before rushing for 13 yards and a 1 yard rushing score, increasing Baylor’s lead to 14-3. Following Texas’ punt, Brewer ran for 13 yards on 3 carries and threw a 16-yard ball to Mims before connecting with him again on a 12-yard TD to close the third quarter at 21-3.
Texas moved the ball down the field early in the fourth quarter, but a bomb from Ehlinger was intercepted by junior CB Grayland Arnold (his 5th pick in 4 games) and returned 26 yards. Brewer led the offense well into UT territory, especially after Mims caught an impossible 26-yard pass, but was brutally hit in the head and exited the game. Redshirt freshman QB Gerry Bohanon entered and tried to move the ball forward, but the offense settled with a 24-yard field goal by redshirt freshman K John Mayers for a 24-3 score. J. Lynch recorded a QB hurry on the subsequent Texas drive and added his second sack of the day for a loss of 7 yards with 3 minutes left in the game and Lockhart notched a QB hurry of his own to force the Longhorns punt. With only 1 second left, the Longhorns managed a garbage time score and the Bears secured a 10th victory and punched their ticket to the Big 12 Championship game in head coach Matt Rhule’s third season!
Six Baylor athletes saw rushing attempts including Brewer (18 carries for 75 yards and 1 TD), Lovett (9 carries for 51 yards and 1 TD), Bohanon (6 carries for 21 yards), Hasty (2 carries for 7 yards), junior RB Trestan Ebner (1 carry for 6 yards), and sophomore WR Josh Fleeks (1 carry for 3 yards). Six received passes including Mims (7 catches for 125 yards and 1 TD), Platt (4 catches for 66 yards), Sneed (2 catches for 21 yards), Hasty (2 catches for 7 yards), junior WR Jared Atkinson (1 catch for 6 yards), and Lovett (1 catch for 3 yards). Baylor’s defense amassed 56 tackles with 6 for a loss of 28 yards (Bernard, Williams, junior CB Raleigh Texada, Lockhart, Matiscik, J. Lynch), 5 sacks for a loss of 23 yards (Bernard, Williams, Lockhart, Matiscik, J. Lynch), 1 interception returned 26 yards (Arnold), 5 pass breakups (Arnold, J. Lynch, senior CB Jameson Houston, sophomore DT Chidi Ogbonnaya), and 3 QB hurries (senior LB Blake Lynch, Lockhart, J. Lynch).
The Bears will close their regular season and face Kansas in Lawrence on November 30 at 2:30 p.m. (CT).