By Daniel Hill
The Baylor Bears faced a tough challenge in a hostile environment against the University of Louisiana at Monroe, winning 47-42
It wasn’t pretty, but it was a victory.
“Everyone bonded together,” junior safety KJ Morton said. “We had a lot of obstacles we had to cross. We pulled together as a unit, we fought together and we came out on top. That will be good for playing on the road again against a better team.”
The ULM Warhawks jumped out to a quick 14-0 lead over Baylor.
“Our guys believe they are going to win, and that’s something that gives you a leg up,” Baylor head coach Art Briles said.
The Baylor offense sputtered early and squandered opportunities with its first three drives, resulting in a punt and two interceptions.
Baylor senior quarterback Nick Florence threw for a career high 351 yards and four touchdowns. Unfortunately, Florence also threw for two interceptions. On the first interception, Florence threw the ball straight to the defense.
It was a gift for the Warhawks and ULM capitalized with a 76-yard touchdown drive to give them a 14-0 advantage.
After throwing two incompletions, Baylor did not start to play conservatively and junior inside receiver Tevin Reese displayed his speed with a 43-yard touchdown catch off of Florence’s well-placed, perfectly lofted throw.
After the quick touchdown, Baylor regained some of the momentum.
The Warhawks had other plans, though, as they ran the ball five straight times for 75 yards.
The scoring drive was capped off by junior running back Monterrell Washington’s 48-yard touchdown in which he went virtually untouched by the porous Baylor defense.
“The offense gave me some great opportunities to make some cuts and find holes,” Washington said. “I owe it all to my offensive line and my receivers blocking down the field.”
Down 21-7, the Bears then rallied to end the half with 17 unanswered points.
Two pass completions and two scrambles from Florence helped get into the red zone.
From there, bruising junior running back Glasco Martin pounded the ball into the end zone to cut the ULM lead to seven, 21-14.
After a 48-yard touchdown catch from Terrance Williams and a last-second 34-yard field goal from junior kicker Aaron Jones, the Bears were in business as they took a 24-21 lead into the half.
The Warhawks wouldn’t go down without a fight and quickly regained the lead 28-24 thanks to a 58-yard rush from junior Jyruss Edwards that gashed the Baylor defense.
After Baylor and ULM traded punts, lightning struck twice as Florence found Reese for a 46-yard touchdown to give the Bears a 31-28 lead. Baylor’s receivers were able to routinely find room behind the ULM defense.
“We didn’t play very well back there, especially with post routes,” ULM head coach Todd Berry said. “That’s something you should never give up when you’re playing man coverage.”
Jones hit a 21-yard field goal to give Baylor a 34-28 advantage.
The scoring continued as sophomore Levi Norwood took an impromptu pitch from Florence and evaded the defense and the sideline to score on a 9-yard touchdown run, 40-35.
The Bears struggled to run the ball for most of the game until the fourth quarter. Junior running back Glasco Martin ran the ball for five consecutive plays in the final quarter and gained 33 well-earned yards.
Martin’s tough running manipulated the defense and allowed senior Terrance Williams to put an exclamation point on Baylor’s victory with a 22-yard touchdown catch to give the Bears a 47-35 lead late in the fourth quarter. With the Bears playing a conservative defense to ensure the win, the Warhawks were able to score on a last gasp touchdown effort.
After starting 3-0, the Bears face their toughest foe to date this Saturday in their Big 12 Conference opener against No. 9 WVU.