Of course every game and victory matters for the No. 16 Baylor Football team (7-1, 4-1), but yesterday’s 31-24 win over unranked Texas was the sweetest of all this season! The Longhorns blew a double digit lead for the third consecutive game and after Baylor’s dreadful first half performance, the Bears took advantage of Texas’ failings and commanded 21 unanswered points to win the matchup. Although Baylor generally looked good on both sides of the ball in the first half with junior QB Gerry Bohanon being the only liability for the first time in his career, the Bears overcame an 11-point deficit in the third quarter with fantastic defense and an offense that quickly bounced back and didn’t allow another Oklahoma State performance (read my recap of that game here!) Baylor OC Jeff Grimes continued his RVO (reliable, violent offense) play and Baylor eventually looked even better than they did against West Virginia three weeks ago and then-ranked No. 19 BYU two weeks ago (read my recap of that game here and watch it with dad and me here!). The highlight of the game (aside from just generally kicking Texas’ ass and watching senior RB Abram Smith annihilate every Texas defender) was the defense holding Longhorns star runningback—arguably one of, if not the best in the country—Bijan Robinson to only 43 yards on 17 carries or an average of 2.5 yards per carry when the back was previously averaging 132 rushing yards per game. Texas’ offense has been built primarily around Robinson gashing through defensive lines, so the Bears zeroing in on him eliminated a huge part of their game plan. Bohanon turned around his gnarly first half stats—completing 10 of 20 passing attempts for 115 yards and 2 interceptions to 8 of 11 for 107 yards in the second half for a total of 18 of 31 passing attempts for 222 yards and 2 interceptions while adding 5 carries for 27 yards and 1 TD on the ground. Senior WR Tyquan Thornton notched the first score of the game with a 6-yard passing completion for a score (which, according to Baylor Athletics, “was the first by a non-quarterback since Jay Lee’s 53-yard touchdown pass to Corey Coleman against Michigan State on January 1, 2015“). The Bears totaled 427 offensive yards with an average gain of 5.8 per play and they only notched 1 penalty for a loss of 10 yards (their first penalty in the past three weeks!).
The Bears got the ball first to start and Bohanon opened with a 22-yard completion to senior WR R.J. Sneed, but his next pass was immediately intercepted and returned 31 yards to the Bears’ 31-yard-line to set up a Texas TD 3 minutes into the game. On the Bears’ next possession, Smith ran for 11 yards on 2 carries and Bohanon completed two passes of 12 and 11 yards to senior WR Drew Estrada and Thornton. Senior RB Trestan Ebner carried the ball 3 times for 21 yards and Bohanon completed 2 passes for 14 total yards to Sneed, setting up a Baylor trick play with Bohanon handing the ball to Ebner and Ebner pitching it to Thornton who threw a 6-yard pass to Sneed in the endzone for a Baylor score a tie, 7-7. Texas notched a delay of game penalty on their first play and sophomore DT Siaki Ika sacked Longhorns QB Casey Thompson for a loss of 8 yards before they went 3-and-out and punted the ball back to the Bears. Smith rushed for 9 yards, Bohanon completed a 2-yard pass to freshman TE Gavin Yates and Ebner added 2 yards on the ground before Smith gained 21 on 2 carries. Texas’ personal foul on the play gave Baylor an extra 15 yards and a 1st down. Smith lost 3 yards and fumbled the ball, but senior OL Xavier Newman-Johnson recovered it and Bohanon’s 8-yard completion to Sneed set up freshman K Isaiah Hankins’ 38-yard field goal to give Baylor the 10-7 lead. 2 plays later, Texas scored on a 63-yard TD pass that gave them a 14-10 advantage at the end of the 1st quarter.
Bohanon threw a 32-yard pass to Smith, Ebner gained 0 on his carry, and Smith added 3 yards on the ground, but Bohanon’s next pass was incomplete and Hankins missed a 51-yarder, so the Bears turned the ball over at UT’s 33. Texas gained 23 yards on their series, but junior CB Al Walcott broke up their 4th down passing attempt and the Bears got the ball back at their own 44-yard-line. Bohanon’s 1st pass was incomplete, Ebner rushed for 4 yards, and Smith added 3 on 2 carries, so the Bears punted again. On Texas’ 2nd 3rd down attempt, junior LB Dillon Doyle forced a fumble and senior S Jalen Pitre recovered it and returned 10 yards to the Baylor 29. Smith lost 1 yard on 2 rushes, Bohanon threw 10- and 4-yarders to Thornton, but junior P Isaac Power punted the ball away, which Texas returned after 2.5 minutes. Bohanon rushed for 16 yards on 2 carries, but his next 1st down attempt was a pass intercepted and returned 9 yards to give Texas the ball back with 27 seconds left in the first half. However, the Longhorns’ Thompson threw an interception on 3rd down at Baylor’s 29 that senior S JT Woods picked off and returned 40 yards to close the 2nd quarter at 14-10 Texas.
Senior CB Kalon Barnes broke up a UT pass in the middle of their first series, but the drive took over 6 minutes off the clock and ended with a Texas score to increase their lead to 21-10. Bohanon threw a 23-yard bomb to Thornton, Smith rushed for a 10-yard gain on 2 attempts, and Bohanon completed another 23-yarder to Sneed. Ebner lost 1 yard on the ground, Sneed caught a 14-yard pass, and Bohanon rushed 6 yards into the endzone for a Baylor TD and a 21-17 Texas lead. Senior LB Terrel Bernard and senior S Jairon McVea combined for a 4-yard tackle for loss on Robinson and Pitre broke up a 2nd down passing attempt before Sneed barely blocked Texas’ punt. Ebner rushed for 9 yards, Smith rushed twice for 6 yards, and Bohanon threw a 6-yard pass to Thornton. Ebner and Bohanon added 6 and 5 yards on the ground, respectively, and Bohanon ended the 3rd quarter with a 5-yard completion to Estrada.
At the beginning of the 4th quarter, Bohanon completed a 28-yard pass to Sims and a 7-yarder to Sneed and Smith ran for 7 yards on 2 rushing attempts before Smith ran the ball in for a 1-yard score to take the Baylor lead, 24-21. Pitre sacked Thompson for a loss of 6 yards and Doyle’s QB hurry helped senior S Christian Morgan break up a pass before Texas only gained 2 yards on 4th and 11, turning the ball over on downs at Baylor’s 47. Ebner rushed for 3 and 18 yards and Smith ran for 32 yards to the house, giving Baylor a 31-21 lead halfway through the quarter. Bernard added a QB hurry and a subsequent pass breakup during Texas’ next drive that ended in their earning a 27-yard field goal to make the score 31-24 Baylor. Smith rushed for 16 yards on 2 carries and caught a 1-yard pass. A bad pitch to Estrada lost the Bears 5 yards on a fumble that Estrada recovered and Bohanon didn’t gain any yardage on the ground, so Baylor punted the ball away the Texas 32 with 2:07 left in the game. Junior DL TJ Franklin hurried Thompson to cause his first incompletion, Woods broke up the next pass, Bernard hurried Thompson for a 3rd down incompletion, and Barnes secured the victory with a pass breakup on 4th down. Baylor got the ball at Texas’ 32 and knelt 3 times to run out the clock.
5 Baylor athletes saw rushing attempts including Smith (20 carries for 113 yards and 1 TD), Ebner (12 carries for 66 yards), Bohanon (5 carries for 27 yards and 1 TD), Sims (1 carry for 1 yard and 1 TD), and Estrada (1 carry for a loss of 5 yards). 6 received passes including Sneed (8 catches for 94 yards and 1 TD), Thornton (5 catches for 54 yards), Smith (2 catches for 33 yards), Estrada (2 catches for 17 yards), Sims (1 catch for 28 yards), and Yates (1 catch for 2 yards). The defense amassed 54 tackles with 4 for a loss of 19 yards (Doyle, Ika, Pitre, McVea) 2 sacks for a loss of 14 yards (Ika, Pitre), 2 forced fumbles (Doyle, Pitre), 1 fumble recovery returned 10 yards (Pitre), 1 interception returned 40 yards (Woods), 7 pass breakups (Bernard, Walcott, Barnes, Morgan, Woods, Pitre), 1 blocked kick (Sneed), and 4 QB hurries (Doyle, Bernard, Franklin).
No. 14(!!!) Baylor will travel to Fort Worth to face TCU (who just fired their famed head coach Garry Patterson) (3-5, 1-4) on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. (CT).