The Baylor Bears are writing history, becoming the first team in program history to advance to three consecutive bowl games, after becoming eligible with a 52-45 overtime victory over Texas Tech.
A series of firsts were recorded for Baylor: junior linebacker Eddie Lackey’s first game with a pair of interceptions, one returned for a touchdown and a fumble recovery.
“Coach Bennett does a great job of getting us in the right position at the right time,” sophomore nickel back Ahmad Dixon said. “You just have to make the plays and that’s what Eddie was doing. He just made the plays when he was in the right position. On his first interception, if I recall right, the guy was running an over route and he was underneath coverage. And the quarterback threw it and he just jumped the route. The second one he was just at the right place at the right time. On the strip, Chris McAlister stripped the quarterback and he just jumped the ball. I mean, he was just in the right place. That’s what coach Bennett’s scheme does. It gets us in the right place. We just have to execute.”
Plus, sophomore receiver Levi Norwood recorded his first touchdown, and senior receiver Terrance Williams is now the all-time leader in all-purpose yards with 4,583, passing former BU All-American Kendall Wright.
It was also Baylor’s first overtime game of the season.
The Bears had the ball to start overtime play, and quarterback senior quarterback Nick Florence ran the ball for eight yards to the Tech 17-yard line.
Junior running back Glasco Martin would get the nod the rest of the possession, running for 13 yards before a four-yard punch into the end zone.
Tech’s possession started with a holding penalty, moving its offense back 10 yards.
Two incomplete passes later, Tech senior quarterback Seth Doege found a receiver to make it fourth-and-five.
His next pass, however, was broken up by junior cornerback Joe Williams to seal the victory and become bowl eligible.
“I was praying a lot,” Florence said. “I’m proud of this team. I’m thankful for the opportunity to play with this team. Win or lose, all glory goes to God and what he’s done on the cross for us. This team is a fighting team. I love it, and I wouldn’t want to be on any other team. There was a lot of praying going on.”
Florence was 22-of-37 for 396 yards and three touchdowns.
Sophomore running back Lache Seastrunk started for Baylor and recorded 136 yards on the ground, and Martin followed with 98 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
Williams ended with 175 yards and a score.
For Texas Tech, Doege finished 30-of-40 for 359 yards and three touchdowns.
Senior receiver Darrin Moore lit up the Bears’ secondary for 186 yards through the air and a pair of touchdowns.
“Texas Tech has a really good football team,” Baylor head coach Art Briles said. “They’re just a tremendously dangerous football team. A team that’s been ranked all year up until this week, they’re a team that you can never blink an eye on or next thing you know, you’re down 14 points, or they’re making a big play on defense, or they’re having a big play on special teams.”
The Bears started out the game on offense, but junior kicker Aaron Jones missed a 42-yard field goal.
Texas Tech scored first when senior corner back Chance Casey blitzed and was blocked, leaving the right sideline open for Doege to run it in 19 yards for the touchdown.
After a Baylor punt, the Red Raiders got the ball back and scored off a five-yard rush.
A 40-yard reception by senior receiver Terrance Williams set up the Baylor offense at the Texas Tech three-yard line, but it took three attempts from Martin at the one-yard line before he crossed the plain for a touchdown.
The Red Raiders started the second half out with a 23-yard touchdown pass.
The half ended with an eight play, 93-yard drive in 1:27, climaxing with sophomore receiver Levi Norwood’s first career touchdown, a 39-yard pass.
That drive was made possible by a sack on Texas Tech senior quarterback Seth Doege by Baylor junior defensive end Chris McAllister, forcing a fumble that was recovered by Lackey.
The Bears forced another turnover in the second quarter, an interception by junior corner back Sam Holl, at Baylor’s own four-yard line.
Baylor’s possession that followed ended by the Red Raider defense stuffing junior running back Glasco Martin at the two-yard line.
In the third quarter, Baylor outscored the Red Raiders 14-10.
The Bears forced Texas Tech to kick a 29-yard field goal in its first possession of the half.
Both teams punted the ball before Baylor scored.
A 36-yard pass to Williams set up the Bears on the four-yard line.
Florence would take the ball, drop it while handing it to Martin, pick it up and run it in for the touchdown.
It wasn’t quite the fumblerooski, but it was a score nonetheless.
Texas Tech was quick to answer, running the kickoff 97 yards to the house.
Just over two minutes later, Florence would throw a pass to senior receiver Lanear Sampson in the end zone, who muscled over the defender to pull the ball down for the touchdown.
“Well I don’t know if the person jumped offsides or not,” Sampson said. “Well, they didn’t call it, but usually we try to get them to jump. And I knew it was just me and the corner one-on-one. I was just trying to make a play for Nick.”
Baylor’s defense would start the fourth quarter out hot off a 55-yard pick-six by Lackey.
“I think he had an interception for a touchdown,” Briles said. “It’s hard to think when you’re screaming.”
This gave Baylor its first lead of the game, 35-31 over Texas Tech.
The Red Raiders, however, trekked down the field and scored a touchdown of their own, going up by three points over Baylor.
Baylor’s next drive was helped out by 22 yards of Red Raider penalties, and Florence found Williams in the corner of the end zone for seven points, making the score 42-38.
Texas Tech would take the lead back with a pass over the top of Casey, going up by three.
After a 33-yard pass to Sampson set the Bears up in the red zone, Baylor had to settle for a 22-yard field goal, tying the game at 45.
With time winding down, what looked like a Texas Tech possession to end the game was cut short by Lackey’s second interception of the game.
For the game, Baylor’s defense forced four turnovers, three interceptions and a fumble, and the Bears’ offense didn’t commit any.
“Well, it’s self-inflicted, but there’s turnovers usually in every game,” Texas Tech head coach Tommy Tuberville said. “They rolled the ball back, dropped it on the goal line, picked it up and scored. It’s just one of those things. I don’t know, you don’t make excuses. We went in today to make enough plays, and we didn’t.”
Each defensive player that came in to the post game interviews said that they were just “in the right place at the right time.”
And that’s just where Baylor is.
With six wins, it is now bowl eligible.