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By Daniel Hill
Buffalo faced No. 3 Ohio State last week and lost 40-20, after Baylor defeated Buffalo 70-13 on Saturday afternoon at Floyd Casey Stadium, Buffalo head coach Jeff Quinn came away with strong remarks regarding the strength of Baylor’s football program.
“We learned a lot these last two weeks,” Quinn said. “I felt good about last week’s game against Ohio State, but this week, we weren’t even close to the way I felt we would hold up against Baylor. They are deserving to be in the top five right now in my opinion.”
Baylor dismantled Wofford last week 69-3, and this week’s game against Buffalo was supposed to be a step-up in competition. The Bears responded by breaking last week’s record of 69 points by scoring 70 this week and thumping Buffalo by 57.
Buffalo started the game off in bold fashion by running a flea-flicker trick play on the first play. Buffalo running back Branden Oliver faked the run and then tossed the ball backwards to quarterback Joe Licata who launched the ball down the field for a 54-yard completion to receiver Alex Neutz. Branden Oliver capped off the drive with a one-yard touchdown run to give Buffalo a 7-0 lead and to give the Baylor Bears their first deficit all season.
“Our job, as a team, was to try to destroy their spirit early,” Briles said. “Then you fall behind 7-0 and we’re fighting uphill for a couple of possessions. I thought our guys responded extremely well. We executed offensively about as well as we have in a while. In the first quarter, we got a few stops and then I think when Bryce Hager got the fumble, that put the dagger where it needed to go and separated us.”
The Bears offense quickly responded by scoring on a four-play drive. After three run plays, senior quarterback Bryce Petty found senior inside receiver Tevin Reese on a quick slant, and then Reese sped past the defense for a 61-yard touchdown to tie the game 7-7.
“That’s our goal going into every game, to play fast,” Petty said. “Coach Briles always tells us ‘we dictate what they do, not the other way around,’” Petty said. “I think that’s a big key to our success. It was nothing that we weren’t used to. We practice it and we expect the same in the games. The refs did a god job of letting us move as fast as we wanted to.”
The Baylor defense held Buffalo to 37 yards on the next drive to force a punt. Petty started off the drive by hitting Reese for a 44-yard gain. Then the Bears started to establish the running game when freshman utility back Shock Linwood rushed three yards to give Baylor a 14-7 lead.
After a three-and-out from Buffalo offense, the Bears offense ignited with a seven-play, 53-yard scoring drive when junior running back Lache Seastrunk scored on a run from eight yards out to give the Bears a 21-7 lead.
Buffalo bounced back by scoring on a Licata-to-Neutz 14-yard touchdown pass. Senior safety Ahmad Dixon blocked the extra-point attempt to make the score 21-13.
On the ensuing Baylor drive, Petty threw over the middle to junior wide receiver Antwan Goodley. At 5-foot-10 and 225 pounds, Goodley showed off his pure speed by racing down the middle of the field for a 83-yard touchdown score, giving Baylor a 28-13 lead in the first quarter.
“Antwan is big and strong,” Reese said. “He’s what everybody calls on our team a freak.”
Goodley is a legend in the weight room and displayed his speed in front of 39,126 fans at Floyd Casey Stadium by racing to the end zone for a 83-yard score, despite his 229 pound frame.
“My 40 [yard dash] was a 4.39 and I squat 685 pounds,” Goodley said. “It felt great. I really can’t explain it. It felt pretty good. I was just happy to have a chance to show everybody that I can run and have a little speed under me. We play fast and try to score points. That’s what coach Briles wants to do.”
Reese led the Bears in receiving with four grabs for 130 yards and a touchdown. Goodley scored a touchdown and caught four passes for 124 yards.
Petty and the offense were in rhythm sprinkling in a balanced offense with a blend of rushes and passes. The Bears diverse, explosive offense found little resistance from the Bulls. Even when things weren’t going perfectly, they were still going right. After mishandling the snap on first and goal from the five, Petty found his way into the end zone for his first rushing touchdown of the season to increase the Baylor lead to 35-13.
The Bears defense forced a turnover when freshman cornerback Xavien Howard intercepted Licata’s pass intended for Neutz and returned it seven yards to the Baylor 38-yard line.
The next Baylor scoring drive featured five rushes from Seastrunk for 33 yards, including a one-yard touchdown run to enhance the Baylor lead to 42-13.
Senior nickel back Sam Holl sacked Buffalo quarterback Joe Licata and forced a fumble with about five minutes to play in the first half. Junior linebacker Bryce Hager scooped up the fumble and zig-zagged his way 91-yards while eluding Buffalo tacklers to score a defensive touchdown. The score gave the Bears a 49-13 lead.
“On the fumble, we were running a blitz,” Hager said. “I saw Sam coming off the edge and I was trailing the quarterback because that’s my responsibility. I saw Sam make the tackle and the ball came out. My instinct was go to the ball so I got the ball in my hand, broke a couple of tackles, saw the end zone and kind of ran out of gas around the 40-yard line, but I’m glad I made it.”
Buffalo resorted to desperate measures by trying to run a fake punt on fourth down, but senior linebacker Eddie Lackey sniffed out the play and tackled kicker Colby Way for a two-yard loss.
The Baylor defense was stifling, holding Buffalo to 83 yards rushing on 49 attempts for 1.7 yards per carry. The Bears also forced two turnovers and scored a defensive touchdown. The Bulls passed for 280 yards while the Bears threw for 452 yards. Offensively, the Bears rushed for 329 yards. The Bears passed 25 times and ran the ball 55 times continuing the trend of being a run-first offense despite the gaudy passing statistics.
Petty fired a bullet to senior tight end Jordan Najvar for 12 yards, and on the next play Seastrunk dashed down the sideline for a 33-yard touchdown run, giving Baylor a 56-13 lead at the half.
The 56-point half marked the most ever points scored in a single half at Floyd Casey Stadium.
To start the third quarter, Baylor relied heavily on utility back Shock Linwood who ran twice for 16 yards, and then senior tight end Jerod Monk caught a pass up the seam for a 40-yard gain. Linwood carried again fro 13 yards and then scored on the next play with a six-yard rushing touchdown to give the Bears a dominant 63-13 lead.
The Bears scored eight touchdowns before ever attempting a punt. In the third quarter, after freshman Seth Russell replaced Petty at quarterback, the Bears finally used junior punter Spencer Roth for the first time in the contest.
Petty ended the day with 338 yards passing and two passing touchdowns with one rushing touchdown. Petty threw zero interceptions and had three incompletions in 16 pass attempts.
Seastrunk tallied 150 yards rushing and scored three touchdowns.
Linwood carried the ball 12 times for 76 yards and found pay dirt twice.
“You can’t ask for a much better outing in your first two big games, but you know leading into Big 12, 2-0 is where we want to be,” Petty said. “We’ve got ULM coming in two weeks and we’ve got to be 3-0. It was a great team win and it’s really fun to be a part of this team.”
In the fourth quarter, Russell found sophomore wide receiver Jay Lee down the sideline for a 53-yard touchdown strike to give the Bears an all-time program record of 70 points, eclipsing the record set last week in the 69-3 victory against Wofford.
The Bears are now 2-0 after two impressive wins. Baylor has a bye week before hosting University of Louisiana-Monroe on Sept. 21.
“This bye week is good for us because we’ve got some guys who are a little banged up right now,” Hager said. “It helps a lot with Troy [Baker] coming back to our offense. I think it’s pretty good timing right now. Then we have a game after our bye week and then we have another bye week, so we have a long stretch. We are going to try to go back to the fundamentals during the bye week, recuperate and do everything we can to get ready for ULM.”