Bears beat SFA, weather as defense shuts out ’Jacks
By Tyler Alley
Lightning stopped the game but not the Bears, as they defeated Stephen F. Austin 48-0 after three quarters.
“If we get a win and it rains, then that’s pretty hard to beat,” head coach Art Briles said. “I thought the crowd was outstanding. That’s always encouraging.”
A lightning delay with 2:14 left in the first half stopped the game 41 minutes, and because of that delay the third and fourth quarters were to be shortened to 12 minutes each with no halftime after the second quarter.
The Baylor defense allowed SFA to get close early on but kept the offense from scoring. The defense stopped a 4th-and-1-conversion attempt on the first drive, and then junior safety Mike Hicks intercepted a pass the Baylor 9-yard line.
On the next drive, sophomore linebacker Brody Trahan forced a fumble on the Baylor 4 that was recovered by senior nose tackle Nicolas Jean-Baptiste.
“I think tonight we’ll focus on the fact that we stopped them when we needed to,” Elliot Coffey said. “Tomorrow when we get back in the film room, when we’re really digging through the game, we’ll really focus on how they got the yards, why they got the yards, and make sure, going into the Rice game, that we don’t allow them to gash us the same way we got gashed tonight.”
Baylor’s offense also had some trouble early on. The Bears’ first drive stalled at SFA’s 31-yard line. Sophomore kicker Aaron Jones hit a 48-yard field goal for the first score of the game.
“We didn’t put up as many points in the first as we wanted to because they were driving on offense, kind of killing the clock,” Griffin said. “We had to be patient in that sense and know that our defense would come up big.”
Baylor’s first touchdown came with 2:53 left in the first quarter. Heisman candidate and junior quarterback Robert Griffin III hit junior receiver Lanear Sampson for a 9-yard touchdown, putting the Bears up 10-0.
After Trahan forced the fumble, the Bears’ offense caught fire, taking it 96 yards on eight plays, including a 35-yard rush from Griffin where he hurdled two defenders. He finished the drive with a 10-yard pass to junior tight end Jerod Monk, who caught his first touchdown of the season.
The Bears’ demonstrated how explosive their offense can be when Griffin tossed a 66-yard touchdown pass to senior receiver Kendall Wright with 3:14 left in the first half, increasing the score to 31-0. With the touchdown, Wright tied a school record with 19 career receiving touchdowns.
“I think the production was great,” Wright said. “I think we scored almost every time we touched the ball but once. We have a lot of skilled guys in a lot of different positions that never get to play that are really good.”
On Baylor’s first drive of the second half, senior running back Terrance Ganaway found a seam and took it 59 yards for the score with 11:21 left in the quarter, making the score 38-0.
“It was a gaping hole,” Ganaway said. “It was one of those rare things where the o-lineman and everything is going right, and there’s nothing to do but just run. I saw that opportunity to run. It was a good feeling to break away in the open field.”
Griffin threw for 247 yards and three touchdowns along with his 82 rushing yards. He also set a school record with a 90.9 completion percentage on the day.
Three of Baylor’s running backs showed up Saturday; Ganaway rushed for 98 yards and a touchdown, junior running back Jarred Salubi rushed for 44 yards and a touchdown and Glasco Martin ran for 61 yards and a touchdown.
“It’s a definite tribute to our [offensive line] and play calling,” Ganaway said. “Coach [Art Briles] knows how to put us in good situations to succeed. I’m glad I was able to showcase some speed, but the biggest thing is that we got the win. It isn’t about myself or anyone else. As long as we win, and we’re a dang good football team, I’m excited.”
Wright had 105 yards on eight receptions and a touchdown. He also increased his streak of consecutive games with a catch
With 43,090 fans Saturday, Floyd Casey Stadium has held more than 40,000 fans for two straight games this season. The total is the second-best start to a season for a two-game total with more than 85,000, losing only to 1975’s total.
After the game, Baylor is now ranked 17th in the AP Top 25 polls. and 19th in the USA Today Coaches Poll.
Baylor will face former Southwest Conference rival Rice in the final non-conference game of the year at 6 p.m. Saturday at Floyd Casey Stadium.
Baylor has won the last five matchups against the Owls, including a 30-13 victory last season.