Baylor defense main culprit in fall to UT

By Greg DeVries

Sports Writer

Baylor and Texas came into Saturday night’s game in a minor state of panic. Both teams started the year strong, but each has lost its last two games. The Bears fell to the Longhorns 50-56, 106 points and 1,132 yards later.

Senior quarterback Nick Florence finished the game 30-of-41 with 352 yards, two touchdowns and an interception.

“I was really proud of the team and how they fought,” head coach Art Briles said. “We challenged them this week to be tough physically and mentally, to have a tough man’s mentality.”

Baylor’s defense continued its season-long struggle on the first play from scrimmage. The Longhorns’ freshman wide receiver Daje Johnson carried the ball around the end for 84 yards and the touchdown to give Texas the early 7-0 lead.

The Bears’ offense failed to respond and punted on their fourth play, but the defense responded well. The Bears forced a fumble to set the Texas offense back. On fourth down, the snap went over the Texas punter’s head.

On the ensuing play, Baylor faked the handoff to the right, and senior quarterback Nick Florence took it to the house himself around the left side to tie the game at 7.

Texas marched the ball down the field on its next possession. Texas’ sophomore running back Joe Bergeron leaped his way into the end zone to cap off a 15-yard run.

Bergeron finished the game with 117 yards on 19 carries and five touchdowns.

Baylor responded on their next opportunity, however. Junior running back Glasco Martin finished Baylor’s drive with a two-yard touchdown run. With just over four minutes to go in the first quarter, this game began to look like the West Virginia game; there was a lot of offense, but defensive stops were few and far between.

Senior wide receiver Terrence Williams picked up right where he left off last week. On first and ten on Baylor’s own 20-yard line, Williams got behind Texas’ secondary, caught the pass from Florence and won the sprint to the end zone.

To respond, Texas stuck with their game plan: run the ball. Every now and then, Texas sophomore quarterback David Ash would mix in a pass to catch Baylor’s defense off guard, but after the first quarter Texas had recorded 84 rushing yards that included the 35 yards lost on the snap that went over the punter’s head.

With 11:45 to go in the second quarter, Florence took the snap and rolled out left for what looked like a quarterback keeper. Texas’ defense filled the holes, so Florence pulled back and found senior wide receiver Lanear Sampson all by himself in the end zone. This put the Bears ahead 28-21.

Bad tackling reared its ugly head for the Bears again on the ensuing kickoff. The Longhorns returned the kick all the way to Baylor’s 30-yard line. The Longhorns then gained a first down after Longhorn junior wide receiver Mike Davis danced through arm tackles.

Bergeron scored his third touchdown of the day after Baylor failed to bring him down in the backfield. This tied the game at 28 with 9:38 left in the first half.

The Longhorns forced Florence to throw an interception on the next possession and then marched the ball down the field and into the end zone. Texas freshman running back Jonathan Gray ran right past junior safety Sam Holl to give Texas the 35-28 edge with 6:18 left in the first half.

On Texas’ next drive, Ash repeatedly tried to take the ball deep over the secondary. Baylor defended these passes well, but the plays opened up everything underneath the secondary for the Longhorns. Texas used these plays and their typical running plays to get into the end zone for the sixth time in the first half.

Towards the end of the first half, Florence threw a fade to Williams, but the referees called the pass incomplete because Williams landed out of bounds. The replay, however, indicated that Williams may have landed in bounds, but the replay official did not decide to review the play and Briles opted to not challenge the play.

“I had tried to tell [Briles] that I saved room,” Williams said. “I kind of figured they were going to look at it up top just because, but they didn’t.”

Baylor and Texas returned to their respective locker rooms with the Bears down 42-31. Florence finished the first half 11-15 with 164 yards, one passing and one rushing touchdown. The Baylor defense gave up 352 total yards and 7.5 yards per play.

The Bears received the ball to start the second half. Baylor, aided by some Texas penalties, marched down the field and into the end zone. Florence fumbled the ball near the goal line, but junior tight end Jordan Najvar was there to dive on the ball in the end zone.

Baylor tried the two-point conversion, but Florence’s pass was batted down at the line of scrimmage. Texas led 42-37.

As the close of the third quarter approached, Martin fumbled the ball on Baylor’s 41-yard line. Texas started the first quarter in Baylor territory with a 49-43 lead.

The Longhorns extended their lead to 56-43 when Ash connected with Davis for his first touchdown pass of the day.

Baylor added another touchdown towards the end of the game. The Bears tried an onside kick, but Texas was able to recover the ball and run out the clock.