By Tyler Alley
The ninth-ranked Texas defense made statements all week, saying it would not let junior quarterback Robert Griffin III win the Heisman against it. In the 48-24 victory Saturday Floyd Casey Stadium, however, it was Baylor’s defense that made the difference.
Sophomore cornerback K.J. Morton said the Baylor defense took some of that talk personally.
“Yeah we did,” Morton said. “We know we are the best. Nobody work harder than us. Now everything’s just coming together, and we’re showing people we are the best.”
The defense held Texas to three points in the second half and forced five turnovers overall. Morton and sophomore safety Sam Holl each had two interceptions. Morton’s first pick came on the heels of a Griffin interception and gave the Baylor offense the ball two yards from the end zone, allowing the Bears to score and retake the lead before halftime.
“It was huge,” Griffin said. “He saved me. The defense stepped up big for us tonight.”
Holl’s first interception came early in the third quarter, after he said he had been burned on a couple deep passing plays and chewed out by defensive coordinator Phil Bennett.
“He made me realize I got to step up and start playing for the seniors and everybody,” Holl said. “I knew I wasn’t doing my part. It kind of sparked me a little bit. You can’t really think about that. You’ve got to be able to focus on your job. We get it all the time. We’re used to it by now.”
Baylor started the game in its typical explosive fashion, when Griffin found senior receiver Kendall Wright for a 59-yard touchdown pass on the second play of the game. Griffin would hit Wright again on the next drive for 48 yards, setting up a 20-yard touchdown run by senior running back Terrance Ganaway.
This Texas defense is one that has not given up a lot of big plays this year.
“I don’t know, second play of the game we did,” Griffin said with a smile. “Every game is a new game.”
Griffin’s two touchdown passes gave Baylor an early 14-0 lead, but Texas would score 21 unanswered points to take the lead. Baylor answered back after a fumble recovery and Morton’s interception to take a 24-21 halftime lead, but both the offense and defense were allowing Texas to hang around.
“It’s us going in at half time and making changes,” senior inside linebacker Elliot Coffey said. “Coach Bennett, that guy’s a guru. We’ve found out a way to go in and change things at halftime.”
After Texas hit a field goal on the opening drive of the half, they would never again add to their score. Baylor would score 24 unanswered points. Griffin accounted for 14 of the points, one passing touchdown and one rushing, and Ganaway added the third score.
“We were able to run the ball a little more consistently [in the second half],” Griffin said. “Ganaway found some creases and had some big runs. [The Texas defense] said they were going to try to play soft and didn’t. And then we beat them a couple times and they went ultra-conservative, really soft.”
Griffin finished the game with 320 yards passing, two touchdowns and one interception, along with two rushing touchdowns, a performance that could transcend Baylor’s ninth win with the game being televised on ABC and Heisman speculation coursing through the media and fans.
“Those guys [Baylor teammates] realized that if we won this game and we played well and had a good showing on national TV, there was a good chance we could win the Heisman,” Griffin said. “That’s why I say it’s more of a team award.”
Wright finished the day with six catches for 166 yards and a touchdown. He broke the Baylor single-season record for all-purpose yard in a season, and moved into third place on the Big 12’s all-time receptions and receiving yards list.
Ganaway finished with 152 yards rushing and two touchdowns. He also broke a Baylor single-season record, this one for rushing yards in a season with 1,347 yards.
The 46,543 attendance number was the largest since 2006.
“I thought our crowd was good really and that’s important,” Briles said. “I felt like we had a lot of energy; that’s important. When you’re at home, you’ve got to take advantage of it. Our student section was the best it’s been since I’ve been here, tonight.”
Baylor finishes the season 9-3, 6-3 in the Big 12, and undefeated at home.