By Shehan Jeyarajah
On Buffalo’s first drive of the game down 7-0, quarterback Joe Licata caught sophomore Baylor cornerback Ryan Reid with a pump fake. The fake opened up Buffalo wide receiver Marcus McGill with a wide open lane for an equalizing touchdown.
But McGill dropped the ball, and Buffalo was forced to punt. Two plays later, senior quarterback Bryce Petty found freshman wide receiver KD Cannon for an 89-yard touchdown over the top to put Buffalo in a two-touchdown hole from which it never recovered.
No. 8 Baylor used several missed opportunities from Buffalo to stun the Bulls 63-21 and complete a perfect non-conference slate.
Petty returned as the starting quarterback after missing last week’s game against Northwestern State with fractured transverse processes in his back. If there was any rust, it did not show up in his production.
Petty threw for 416 yards and four touchdowns in just under three quarters of work with the first-team offense. The senior completed 23 of his 34 pass attempts for a 67.6 percent completion percentage, markedly higher than what he posted in 2013.
Petty found Cannon for the 89-yard reception and junior receiver Jay Lee for a 30-yard score less than a minute into the second quarter to push the lead to 28-0.
No. 8 Baylor did not give up a touchdown for the first 10 quarters of the season, but Licata eventually broke through with a shovel pass to receiver Devon Hughes on fourth down to cut the lead to 35-7.
Petty then found sophomore wide receiver Lynx Hawthorne for an 18-yard score, but a missed tackle from sophomore linebacker Aiavion Edwards allowed Buffalo running back Anthone Taylor to break through the line for a 41-yard touchdown.
From that point on, Baylor’s first-team defense took the challenge and held the Bulls scoreless for the remainder of its time on the field, a period which Baylor used to score three straight touchdowns.
Buffalo’s backup quarterback Tony Daniel found receiver Malcolm Robinson for a 17-yard touchdown late in the fourth, but by that point it was too late.
A week after playing the second most productive receiving game in Baylor history, Cannon once again looked like an All-American candidate.
The true freshman caught only six balls, but 33.6 yards per catch on the season would make even Tevin Reese jealous. His 157 receiving yards per game, despite not even starting week one, is third in the nation heading into Sept. 13’s action.
Cannon was one of three receivers to finish with over 100 receiving yards, along with Lee and Hawthorne. The trio combined for 22 receptions for 448 yards and all five of Baylor’s receiving touchdowns on the day.
The defense was inconsistent to say the least. There were plays where junior defensive end Shawn Oakman looked ready to be the best defensive player in college football, but there were points where the defensive line overcommitted to the pass at the expense of the run, and Buffalo took advantage.
Baylor also struggled mightily in the special teams game. Buffalo kept the ball away from Hawthorne on kick offs. With senior receiver Levi Norwood held out with a wrist injury, junior receiver Cal Spangler struggled to make anything happen. Spangler only fielded two of eight punts, and returned those for only a single yard.
Baylor’s kicking was perhaps even more dreadful. Freshman kicker Chris Callahan missed his only field goal of the day, and even looked bad on extra point attempts.
Baylor will look to study its film against Buffalo to prepare for the beginning of Big 12 conference play. After a bye week this upcoming week, Baylor will travel to Ames, Iowa to play Iowa State at Jack Trice Stadium.