By Daniel Hill
The Baylor Bears defeated the University of Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks 70-7 on Saturday night at Floyd Casey Stadium.
“We’ve had three home games,” Baylor head coach Art Briles said. “We’ve taken advantage of being home and we’ve got good people. We have a good football team. If you combine those factors it’s people making plays on both sides of the ball. We’ve got to keep playing at a high rate and win. That’s the bottom line.”
After defeating ULM narrowly last season in Monroe 47-42, the Bears left no doubt against the Warhawks this season by overwhelming the opponent both offensively and defensively.
“It says a lot about us,” senior safety Ahmad Dixon said. “Last year, we gave up some big plays and we came back and washed it out of our minds and did what we needed to do. It’s obvious that we’ve grown, we’ve matured, we’ve improved as a defense. We’re just looking forward to West Virginia.”
The Bears were simply too much for the Warhawks on Saturday. The defense contained the Warhawks to just seven points and scored two touchdowns themselves.
The Bears held ULM to 75 rushing yards while unleashing 311 rushing yards on offense. Baylor also more than doubled ULM’s passing yards, 470 to 220.
After the Baylor defense stifled the ULM offense on fourth down of the opening series, the Bears offense took over with the ball with 10:38 to play in the first quarter.
21 seconds later, the Bears were in the end zone with a three play, 82-yard drive accentuated by junior receiver Antwan Goodley’s 63-yard touchdown catch from junior quarterback Bryce Petty.
On Baylor’s second possession, Petty found senior receiver Tevin Reese down the seam for a 47-yard touchdown grab to give the Bears a 14-0 lead.
After two offensive touchdowns, the Baylor defense got in on the action with a 41-yard interception return touchdown from senior cornerback Joe Williams.
The defensive touchdowns off of turnovers helped jumpstart the Bears romp of ULM.
“That’s what sparks our team,” Petty said. “If the defense can get turnovers, if the defense can get stops on fourth down, that’s big stuff. I know you win if you score more points than the other team so we need the defense to come out and shut them out. It’s not just about us scoring more points, it’s that dominance that is what we want as a team. I think both sides of the ball we dominated today. We took their spirit out early and that’s what you want to do.”
Then the Baylor defense scored again when sophomore safety Terrell Burt picked off ULM quarterback Kolton Browning’s pass and raced to the end zone to give the Bears a 28-0 lead.
In the ensuing kickoff, the Bears forced a fumble and recovered the ball at the ULM 16-yard line. Petty utilized his athleticism with a 2-yard scoring scamper to boost the Bears’ lead to 35-0.
The 35 points scored by Baylor in the first quarter tied the all-time program record for most points in a single quarter. It also marked the third time this season where the Bears scored at least 28 points in the first quarter of the game.
In the second quarter, the Bears were lined up with three receivers to the right and one receiver to the left. Petty called a signal to the one receiver side. Once the ball was snapped, the safety raced over to the one receiver side where Tevin Reese was lined up, then Petty immediately looked right and threw a perfectly placed dime to Antwan Goodley for a 65-yard touchdown score that crushed the spirit of ULM’s defense to give Baylor an eye-popping 42-0 lead early in the second quarter.
ULM scored its first points of the game on a gutsy fourth down play with a touchdown pass from Browning to tight end Justin Manton to make the score 42-7.
The Bears responded to ULM’s first score of the game with their seventh touchdown.
Petty tossed the ball towards the outer portion of the end zone and receiver junior Clay Fuller high-pointed the ball and came down with a spectacular touchdown grab. It’s Fuller’s first touchdown grab of his Baylor career and advanced Baylor’s lead to 49-7 to end the second quarter.
To start the third quarter, the Bears received the football and wasted little time putting the ball in the end zone. On the second play of the half, Seastrunk burst through the ULM defense and raced down the sideline for a 75-yard touchdown score to make it 56-7.
Redshirt freshman utility back Shock Linwood scored on Baylor’s next drive with a 10-yard run, giving Baylor a 63-7 advantage.
The Baylor starters spent the rest of the game on the bench and the keys to the offense were handed over to redshirt freshman Seth Russell.
Petty ended the day with 18 completions on 27 attempts for 351 yards, four touchdowns and zero interceptions. Petty also had five rushes for 26 yards and one touchdown.
Seastrunk rushed for 156 yards on 10 carries with a touchdown. The running back currently holds a school record and leads the nation with his seventh consecutive game of rushing for over 100 yards.
“He’s a freak, a lot of God-given ability and the guy works hard so we really expect nothing less,” Petty said. “He’s a big hitter for us and that’s important especially going into the Big 12 to have him hot. That’s a compliment to the big guys up front.”
Antwan Goodley caught five passes for 156 yards and two touchdowns.
Tevin Reese had six grabs for 123 yards and one touchdown.
Russell fired a 65-yard touchdown pass to junior receiver Levi Norwood for Baylor’s tenth touchdown of the game. The touchdown was Norwood’s second career score and gave the Bears a 63-point lead, 70-7.
Freshman safety Taion Sells picked off a pass and returned it to the red zone to tee up a scoring opportunity for Russell and the Baylor offense that went unrealized as the Bears turned the ball over on downs.
Through three non conference games, the Bears offense has rolled up astounding offensive statistics.
For the second time in two games, the Bears racked up over 700 yards of offense with 781. It’s only the fourth time that’s happened in school history and two occurrences have been this season.
With wins over Wofford, Buffalo and now ULM, the Bears have scored 28 or more points in the first quarter of three straight games. That makes Baylor the first FBS or FCS team to accomplish the feat in the BCS era.
The Bears have also scored 41 or more points in nine consecutive games, which is a school record.
Defensively, the Bears have scored a touchdown in all three games so far this season, with two tonight against ULM. Senior linebacker Eddie Lackey had a sack and senior defensive ends Chris McAllister and Terrance Lloyd combined for a sack. Each player was credited with a half sack.
Under defensive coordinator Phil Bennett, the Bears are 18-2 when forcing two or more turnovers.
The Bears are already looking forward to starting the Big 12 schedule.
“I was ready to start after we won the Holiday Bowl,” Petty said. “So, I’ve been ready for a while, but I know this team is too just because we know what we have. We know what we can do. We’re ready to show you guys and the nation what Baylor football is about. It’s great to get these three games out of the way but we’re ready to play West Virginia that’s for sure.”
The Bears have an open date next week and then the Big 12 Conference slate officially begins when Baylor hosts the West Virginia Mountaineers on Oct. 5 at Floyd Casey Stadium.