By Daniel Hill
The No. 16 Baylor Bears defeated the West Virginia Mountaineers 73-42 on Saturday night at Floyd Casey Stadium.
After breezing through an undefeated nonconference slate, the Bears were amped to open up the Big 12 Conference schedule against WVU.
The Bears responded by drubbing the Mountaineers and setting an all-time school record with 864 yards of total offense.
“I thought our guys played extremely active and with a lot of intensity and purpose,” head coach Art Briles said. “We played with purpose early. The second half was a little bit of a downer.”
On the first drive of the game, the Bears scored in a three-play, 75-yard drive when junior quarterback Bryce Petty launched a 61-yard touchdown strike to junior receiver Antwan Goodley to give the Bears a sudden 7-0 lead 40 seconds into the game.
On West Virginia’s initial possession, the Bears forced the Mountaineers to punt to junior receiver Levi Norwood. Norwood, typically one of the most sure-handed Baylor players, muffed the punt and the ball rolled into the end zone. West Virginia sophomore safety Karl Joseph pounced on the ball to tie the game at 7-7 and the Mountaineers capitalized on Baylor’s mistake.
The error sparked the Bears into overdrive and the offense scored on the next four possessions to give the Bears a 35-7 lead early in the second quarter.
With the score tied at 7 apiece, the Bears offense engineered a methodical 12-play, 75-yard drive capped off by Petty’s 2-yard rushing touchdown to make it 14-7 Baylor.
“I think we have an explosive nature to us from an offensive standpoint,” Briles said. “I think defensively, we have some guys that play with a lot of intensity and toughness. We’re a tough football team and that’s something that we pride ourselves on.”
The Baylor defense mounted a ferocious stand by blitzing on three straight plays and stopping the Mountaineers’ in bold fashion on fourth down when senior linebacker Eddie Lackey chased down junior Dreamius Smith for a loss of two yards.
Lackey thinks the play was a statement from Baylor’s defense.
“Yeah, I think it was,” Lackey said. “We needed to come out here and show that we can make a stop first series and that was the big thing. It really just shows how fast our defense is. We fly around and make plays.”
With another year under defensive coordinator Phil Bennett, the Bears defense is more comfortable in his system and Bennett reciprocates that with more trust in his players.
“He’s just really confident in us,” Lackey said. “Maybe that’s a big difference from last year, is that he didn’t have such the confidence in us because we are more mature as a team. Because we are more mature as a team, he can trust us in making those plays and blitzing and whatever gap it is, I think it all falls under his trust.”
The Bears took over on downs at the West Virginia 47-yard line. Petty aggressively fired a 47-yard touchdown pass to senior receiver Tevin Reese on the first play of the drive. Reese made a highlight catch to juggle the ball and maintain control of it for a touchdown to increase the Baylor lead to 21-7.
The Baylor defense stepped up once again by forcing a WVU punt. The punt went into the end zone to give the Bears the ball at the 20.
Junior running back Lache Seastrunk rocketed around the right side of the field on a carry and torched the WVU defense for an 80-yard touchdown run to give the Bears a convincing 28-7 lead after the first quarter.
“It just parted like the Red Sea,” Seastrunk said. “My linemen did what they had to do. I gave a stiff arm, turned around, AG [Antwan Goodley] gave me a block and I headed for the end zone.”
The Bears gained 369 yards of offense in the first quarter, which is the most by any team in any quarter in the last ten years.
The Bears further increased the lead to 35-7 after senior running back Glasco Martin pounded the rock into the end zone for a 2-yard touchdown rush.
Petty, who has been practically flawless so far this season, made his first big mistake of the year when he stared down his receiver and was picked off by freshman cornerback Daryl Worley at the 10-yard line. Worley returned the ball all the way into West Virginia territory at the 47-yard line before getting decked by freshman receiver Corey Coleman.
The Bears forced another WVU punt and Martin capitalized with his second rushing touchdown of the contest with another 2-yard run to boost the Baylor lead to 42-7.
The West Virginia offense answered back when junior quarterback Clint Trickett found junior receiver Kevin White in the back of the end zone for a 39-yard touchdown pass, cutting into the Baylor lead 42-14.
Seastrunk flashed his amazing athleticism on a sweep to the left as he tight-roped into the end zone on a 19-yard rush and dove inside the pylon to give the Bears a 49-14 lead with 4:02 remaining before half time.
Freshman utility back Shock Linwood expanded the Baylor lead with a quick inside dive play where he rushed untouched for a 13-yard score, giving the Bears a 56-14 lead going into the half.
Through the first half, the Baylor offense has racked up 617 yards of total offense, while the defense has limited West Virginia to 151 total yards in the half.
“This is without a doubt the best offense I’ve been a part of,” Martin said. “I think we’re just hitting on all cylinders. We’ve got the right scheme. We’ve got the right players. Everything is just working for us. It’d be hard to beat this offense. I’m trying to think of previous offenses but I can’t think of any.”
In the third quarter, the Bears conceded a touchdown to WVU on the opening drive of the second half after running back Charles Sims escaped for a 39-yard touchdown to make the score 56-21.
On the Bears next drive, freshman utility back Shock Linwood carried the ball eight times and the Bears established the ground game. To seal off the drive, freshman running back Devin Chafin scored on a one-yard rush to push the Bears lead to 63-21.
Senior cornerback DeMetri Goodson picked off Clint Trickett’s pass deep over the middle and returned the ball to the Baylor 42-yard line.
On Baylor’s next offensive drive, many of the starters were pulled, including Petty. Redshirt freshman Seth Russell stepped in at the quarterback position and led the Bears on a 65-yard drive punctuated by senior placekicker Aaron Jones’ 36-yard field goal to make it 66-21.
With much of Baylor’s starting defense on the sidelines for the remainder of the game, the Mountaineers found some offensive rhythm after Jones missed on a 37-yard field goal attempt.
The Mountaineers scored three straight touchdowns to finish off the game while Baylor found the end zone one more time off of Russell’s seven-yard rush.
The Bears dominated in the first half, but let the pedal off the metal in the second half. WVU won the second half 28-17, but Baylor’s 56 first half points were too much for the Mountaineers to overcome. The final scoreboard read Baylor 73, West Virginia 42, but most of WVU’s damage was done against Baylor’s second team.
After the game, the Bears were clearly happy to have won the game, but were upset with the way the final scoreboard stood.
Dixon was not pleased with the form of Baylor’s defense and said he expects the Bears to make more of a statement than they did tonight.
The 42 points from West Virginia represents the most points the Bears have given up all season, with the previous high being 13 points to Buffalo on Sept. 7.
“I know from a defensive standpoint, we are not satisfied,” Dixon said. “Our two’s struggled. Our one’s gave up some big time plays. We have to get better. That’s not how we play Baylor football.”
“Unfortunately, we let the game, stat wise, be closer than it should be,” Petty said.
Petty further added that Baylor will continue to play with a chip on its shoulder. After playing a relatively easy non conference schedule, the Bears wanted to prove a point against the naysayers against the Mountaineers.
“I always feel that Baylor is a ‘but’ team,” Petty said. “I say that because people say they’re good but, they score points but, they beat this team but. That’s good because it puts a chip on our shoulder. It would be nice to get out of that. It would be nice to prove that but at the end of the day it’s not enough. But that’s where we want to be, again, it puts a chip on our shoulder and it gets us out to practice every week. We know that we’re the best. It doesn’t matter what somebody on ESPN says, or whatever, we know that we are the best. We come out to work. We have to come in and keep working. Stay hungry.”
The Bears hit the road for the first time this season with a road contest against the Kansas State Wildcats next Saturday in Manhattan.