By Shehan Jeyarajah
For a while, Baylor looked to be in big trouble on Saturday. Texas Tech was playing flawless football, and back-to-back touchdown throws to junior tight end Jace Amaro gave Tech a sudden 20-7 lead over Baylor with 3:25 left in the first quarter.
It was all Baylor from there.No. 5 Baylor (9-0, 6-0) overcame an early 14-point deficit to win 63-34 over Texas Tech (7-4, 4-4) in Arlington at AT&T Stadium for the Texas Farm Bureau Insurance Shootout.
The crowd of 69,188 was the second largest to ever watch a game between these two teams.
When nothing seemed to be going well in the first quarter, junior inside receiver Levi Norwood took over. Within the span of five minutes, Norwood had a 40-yard touchdown catch from junior quarterback Bryce Petty and a 58-yard punt return that cut the Tech lead to 20-14. In the second quarter, Norwood took a pass from Petty 58 yards for a touchdown.
“Getting a punt return, any special teams, for a touchdown is a quick turnaround, a quick change,” head coach Art Briles said. “All of a sudden it’s a 20-14 ballgame. Norwood is dynamic with the ball in his hand and he’s really good in open space. It sparked us a little bit.”
Norwood led Baylor with 214 total yards and three all-purpose touchdowns on the day. Junior wide receiver Antwan Goodley finished with 101 yards and a touchdown. With the performance, Goodley has 100 or more yards in six out of his nine games this season and touchdowns in eight out of nine.
Petty posted 335 passing yards, three passing touchdowns and two rushing touchdowns against the Red Raider defense. This was Petty’s second straight five-touchdown performance. With the performance, Petty has 34 all-purpose touchdowns on the season and one interception.
With junior running back Lache Seastrunk and senior running back Glasco Martin both out with injuries, Baylor relied on redshirt freshman running backs Shock Linwood and Devin Chafin. Linwood led the way with 202 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown. Chafin also added 100 yards on the ground and two touchdowns.
“It’s a tribute to our offensive line and Bryce Petty,” Briles said. “Our offensive line started out as the strength of our football team and I think that’s held true throughout these four months. That allows people to plug in and be successful.”
Baylor’s defense was disastrous to start the game. Texas Tech scored on their first three drives behind two touchdowns from Amaro and a beautiful one-handed scoring grab from senior wide receiver Eric Ward to give Tech a 20-7 lead. Tech converted on five of its eight third down conversions in the first quarter. Out of the three fourth downs, two of those were converted.
After those first three drives, the Baylor defense had already given up 239 total yards in only nine minutes of game time. The Baylor defense finally forced a punt on the fourth drive of the game that Norwood took to the house. From that point on, the Bears defense turned a corner.
Texas Tech had 13 more drives for the rest of the game. Baylor’s defense forced seven punts, two on three-and-outs, and had three takeaways. In the next 51 minutes of gameplay, Texas Tech posted 215 yards of total offense. Baylor outscored Texas Tech 56-14 in that stretch.
Senior cornerback K.J Morton was the leader on defense against the Red Raiders. Morton finished with nine tackles, all of them solo. Coming off the edge, he also added a sack, three tackles for loss, four pass breakups and a forced fumble. With Baylor reeling defensively at the end of the first quarter, Morton came up with a crucial interception that Baylor turned into a Petty touchdown pass on the next play.
With the win, Baylor moved up to No. 3 in the Associated Press poll and up to No. 4 in the BCS rankings. Both marks are the highest in Baylor history.
The Bears will look to continue their success on the road this Saturday against No. 10 Oklahoma State in Stillwater, Okla. The Bears last won in Stillwater in 1939.
“You want to win every week obviously, but the two places on the road, Manhattan and Stillwater, that’s where you’re going to make your mark as a quarterback,” Petty said. “For me, going into this week, I’m going to prepare like I’ve never prepared before.”
The Cowboys are coming off a strong showing against the No. 24 Texas Longhorns with a 38-13 win in Austin on Saturday. With the Longhorn loss, Baylor took sole possession of first place in the Big 12, and Oklahoma State moved into a tie for second place.
Baylor will play Oklahoma State at 6 p.m. Saturday at T. Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater, Okla. The game will be nationally broadcast on ABC with Brent Musberger and Kirk Herbstreit on the call. ESPN’s College Gameday will also broadcast live on hand from 8:00 to 11:00 a.m.