By Tyler Alley
Heisman-candidate Robert Griffin III was told before the beginning of the second half he was not going back in after getting hit in the face by a Texas Tech defender and showing concussion-like symptoms in the first half.
Worry may have crept across Baylor nation, but with 10:09 left in the third quarter, junior quarterback Nick Florence delivered a 46-yard touchdown pass to senior receiver Kendall Wright. Baylor went up by 10 and never looked back, defeating Texas Tech 66-42 Saturday at Cowboys Stadium.
“We were feeling sorry. I’ve been through it before when Robert’s not playing,” Wright said. “I’m just glad it’s not an ACL. I know he’s coming back so he can sit this one out and let Nick go. It was big catching that touchdown from Nick. We just had to use our skill players, keep our backup quarterback positive and focused, make plays and just help him make plays.”
The victory came largely off the back of senior running back Terrance Ganaway, who carried the ball a school-record 42 times for a career-high 246 yards with two rushing touchdowns.
“Never would I have thought that we would have that many rushes in a game with [head coach] Art Briles’ offense,” Ganaway said. “The offensive line played really well today. I like [when the coaches] call my number and tonight they did.”
Ganaway also set the Baylor single-season record for rushing touchdowns in a season with his 14th. As a team Baylor had 360 rushing yards and five touchdowns.
“Our offensive line was just dominating,” Briles said. “They did a tremendous job up front. Ganaway was extremely tough. There’s not many 242-pound backs in the nation that have the agility and speed that Ganaway has. So we understand that he’s a special back.”
Baylor and Texas Tech went back and forth in the first half. Baylor scored the first touchdown of the game when on fourth-and-6, Griffin passed to Wright for a 33-yard touchdown. Texas Tech answered on the next drive after a Baylor score, bringing the score to 31-28 at halftime.
At the beginning of the second half, Florence came out on the field for Griffin, making him ineligible for the redshirt the team planned to give him at the end of the year.
“It’s a team game and I was ready to step in,” Florence said. “I credit the win to the entire team – the offensive line, the running backs, the receivers and the defense. There wasn’t any dropping of heads when [Griffin] went out of the game. The team believed and it was a team win.”
Florence would throw a 40-yard touchdown pass to junior receiver Terrance Williams on Baylor’s next drive.
The Baylor defense ended Tech’s ability to answer the Baylor offense drive-for-drive in the second half. Senior linebacker Elliot Coffey forced a fumble in the third quarter that was recovered by junior safety Mike Hicks.
On the Red Raiders’ next drive, sophomore cornerback Joe Williams picked off Texas Tech quarterback Seth Doege and returned it 90 yards for a touchdown, putting the Bears up 52-28.
“That was absolutely a backbreaker, because they were driving and we were sitting there scattered,” Coffey said. “They were running a little bit of tempo on us; we were having a hard time getting lined up. Then boom, Joe makes that pick and takes it to the house, even though it took him a little longer that we expected. Joe took it to the house, just an absolute backbreaker. We knew from that point on, man, we got this.”
The two teams combined for more than 100 points and more than 1,000 yards of offense on the day. They also combined for 20 penalties and six turnovers.
Florence and Griffin combined for 257 passing yards and three touchdowns. Griffin also had 62 rushing yards and two touchdowns in the first half alone.
Wright had 125 yards and two touchdowns, giving him 12 on the season, a new Baylor record.
The 66 points scored by Baylor was a new school record for a conference game. The old record was 60 points back in 1920.