By Shehan Jeyarajah
In front of a crowd of 69,188 raucous fans, Baylor football showed the nation that you never really have an advantage against the Bear’s high-powered offense. Despite Texas Tech scoring the first 14 points of the game, Baylor’s high-powered offense would score 60 or more points for the sixth time this season, and No. 5 Baylor (9-0, 6-0) cruised to 63-34 victory over Texas Tech (7-4, 4-4) in Arlington.
Redshirt freshman running back Shock Linwood led Baylor with 187 rushing yards on 29 carries and a touchdown in his first collegiate start at running back. Fellow redshirt freshman running back Devin Chafin added 100 yards and two touchdowns on only 11 carries in his first major action.
Junior quarterback Bryce Petty threw the ball 31 times for 335 yards and five all-purpose touchdowns. Junior receiver Levi Norwood caught seven of those balls for 156 yards and two touchdowns. Norwood also added a 58-yard punt return for touchdown.
“I felt I was ready if I needed to step up, but I didn’t expect it to be me,” Norwood said. “We want to all step up and do something special for Tevin. It was really all of us just wanting to do something special for him, have a big game for him.”
Freshman quarterback Baker Mayfield had 314 yards passing and four touchdowns on 28-for-51 passing to lead Texas Tech. Senior wide receiver Eric Ward had 82 yards receiving and a touchdown for Tech. Junior tight end Jace Amaro added two touchdowns on four catches.
On Texas Tech’s first drive, Baylor seemed to have the Red Raiders locked up, but could not complete stops. Tech faced deficits of fourth-and-one and fourth-and-seven, but converted on both attempts behind a pass from Mayfield to Jordan Davis and a defensive holding on freshman wide receiver Robbie Rhodes.
A 28-yard run by Sadale Foster led to a six-yard touchdown pass from running back Kenny Williams to tight end Jace Amaro to give Tech a 7-0 lead.
Baylor could not get anything going on offense to start their first drive of the game. Other than a 27-yard reception by Levi Norwood, Baylor did not run a play that resulted in positive yardage.
On their second drive, the Red Raiders started at their own 11. Tech faced a third-and-six at their own 28, but forced their way out with a 28-yard pass to Brad Marquez. By the time the play went to review, the referees ruled the play too late to go to review.
Mayfield then had a carry for 20 yards and a touchdown pass of 20 yards to Jace Amaro on back-to-back plays. Amaro’s touchdown gave Texas Tech a seemingly dominant 14-0 lead over Baylor.
“We were down 7-0 to Buffalo, Kansas State down third quarter, tough road place,” head football coach Art Briles said. “What you got to realize, it’s a 60-minute game. We took a couple shots, and then we dodged a bunch, next thing you knew it was a fight and we were actually in it.”
Clay Fuller opened up the next drive with a 43-yard kickoff return to bring the ball up to the Baylor 43. After an 18-yard Shock Linwood run, Levi Norwood broke away for a 40-yard touchdown for Baylor’s first score of the game. The drive lasted only 52 seconds.
Tech started their next drive at the 25-yard line with 6:05 left in the first quarter. The defense forced Tech into a third-and-11 but subsequently wasted the opportunity by allowing 29-yard pass to Eric Ward.
Davis had a big-time catch for 25-yards to bring Tech within the the Baylor 7. The Davis reception led to a six yard receiving touchdown by Eric Ward three plays later, but Ryan Bustin missed the extra point.
Baylor’s next drive went awry as Petty missed on three straight passes to force a three-and-out with 2:57 left in the first quarter.
Levi Norwood turned things around on Tech’s first punt of the game with a 58-yard punt return to cut the lead to 20-14 with 1:33 left in the first quarter, his second touchdown of the half.
Tech began to find momentum, but K.J Morton turned the tide with a huge interception on the Texas Tech 31.
Baylor’s offense found new life with the turnover. Petty threw a 31-yard touchdown to Antwan Goodley on the subsequent play, and Aaron Jones kicked in the extra point. With the extra point, Aaron Jones set the all-time record for points in a career.
Texas Tech punted on their first drive of the second quarter, but Baylor’s offense struggled to take advantage. Petty compiled fifty yards on the play, but his effort was wasted as Aaron Jones missed the 49-yard field goal.
On Tech’s next drive, Mayfield fumbled the ball and Ahmad Dixon recovered. An unsportsmanlike conduct penalty pushed Baylor back to the 43-yard line, but that wouldn’t stop Baylor’s offense. The running game would take over on this drive. Five consecutive runs by Shock Linwood and Devin Chafin would lead a 47-yard touchdown drive to give Baylor a 28-20 lead.
Baylor would get a stop, but Petty fumbled the ball on the next possession to give Tech possession on the Baylor 23. Tech would drive down the field and Jakeem Grant would score on a fade to the end zone from Mayfield.
Antwan Goodley had an eight-yard completion to save Baylor’s next drive on third-and-eight. On the next play, Levi Norwood took off and finished with a 58-yard touchdown reception through the Texas Tech defense to give Baylor a 35-27 lead.
Baylor marched down the field on their first drive of the second half. Petty completed back-to-back passes for 37 yards. Shock Linwood and Devin Chafin combined for 28 yards on five rushing attempts. The drive was capped by a six-yard touchdown scamper by Petty.
Texas Tech started out their first drive coming right back at Baylor’s defense. A 20-yard pass by Mayfield and 15-yard pass interference penalty on Ahmad Dixon set Tech up with a first-at-10 at the Baylor 34. Baylor’s defense forced the Red Raiders into a key fourth-and-two, but Sam Holl came up with a game-saving stop on a quarterback sneak.
Shock Linwood and Devin Chafin took over on the next drive. Linwood had four rushes for 41 yards, and Devin Chafin broke away for a 47-yard sprint to the end zone for his first touchdown of the game. The drive went 75 yards in only 1:16.
After a punt by Texas Tech, Baylor had a disastrous possession. The Bears had a 15-yard reception called back by an offensive pass interference, and then allowed a sack at the Baylor 6-yard line to force a three-and-out.
Mayfield had a 41-yard bomb to take Tech to the 20-yard line. The bomb set up a subsequent 19-yard touchdown throw to Reginald Davis to cut the lead to 49-34.
Baylor would strike right back with a 2:26 drive. A 48-yard grab by Antwan Goodley brought Baylor to the Texas Tech 25-yard line. Shock Linwood would move the ball within the 1-yard line for Petty to push in for his second rushing touchdown of the game.
Ahmad Dixon forced a fumble by Kenny Williams that was recovered by Joe Williams at the Texas Tech 40 yard line. The offense was unable to convert and turned it over on downs after Devin Chafin was brought down short on fourth-and-one.
After a Tech punt, Baylor’s running game came to life once again. Chafin and Linwood combined for 42 yards on five carries, and Linwood ran the ball in on a ten yard touchdown scamper. After the touchdown, Baylor’s starters would leave the field for good with a 63-34 lead.
In the win, senior kicker Aaron Jones set the NCAA record for most points in a career.
Baylor moves to 9-0 for the first time in program history with the win.
“This is all just a blessing,” Dixon said.” Coach Briles and his staff gave me an opportunity to come in, help this team out, get where we are now. It’s just a blessing.”
No. 5 Baylor will travel up to Stillwater at 7 p.m. on Saturday to take on No. 12 Oklahoma State. The game will be nationally broadcast on ABC.