By Jeffrey Swindoll
It was only the second time that two Associated Press top 10 teams had met in Waco, and the Bears came out on top with a captivating 61-58 victory over the No. 9 TCU Horned Frogs at McLane Stadium on Saturday night. The Bears pulled off a historic comeback to keep the fire burning for a chance at the national title.
All of that rested on the shoulders of a freshman kicker, with the score tied and one play left in regulation. One team was bound for a crushing loss that would inevitably derail momentum for the postseason, and the other inevitably catapult into national championship contention. To the winner go the spoils. The stakes were undeniably high.
Baylor redshirt freshman Chris Callahan nailed a 25-yard field goal as time expired to cap off a dramatic 24-point comeback from the Bears in the final 10 minutes of the game — a school record for the latest and most points scored in a comeback win for Baylor. Callahan’s kick sent the fans at McLane Stadium into jubilation, who ended up rushing the field to celebrate the Bears’ incredible win.
“I saw that kick go up and how it came off my foot and I knew it was in. I had no doubt,” Callahan said. “We’ve struggled this year, but we’ve really worked on getting back to perfection. We’re a resilient team. We’ve talked about that all year.”
Saturday marked the 110th meeting between the two teams. The past 5 years have had massive upsets and thrilling contests for both sides of the “I-35 Battle Royale.” Saturday’s game was a bit of a tie-breaker for the rivalry between the Bears and the Horned Frogs. Baylor now holds the lead in the all-time series with TCU, 52-51-7.
From head coach to true freshmen, no one on the Bears said they had ever been part of a game quite like the one on Saturday night. Never had any of them played in a game of such magnitude that ended in such dramatic fashion. Freshman receiver KD Cannon said, “There is no way to describe it.”
Baylor head coach Art Briles said he even saw junior defensive lineman Shawn Oakman in tears after the game. Emotion was high on Saturday, and the game had it’s scares for the Bears.
After senior quarterback Bryce Petty threw an interception in the third quarter that led to a score for TCU, and a pick-six in the fourth quarter, it looked like it was all over for the Bears. The Bears were down by a steep margin of 21 points with only 10 minutes left in the fourth quarter, but Petty said he never stopped believing that his team was going to win the game.
“I don’t know why I felt it, and I am not saying that I doubted it at any point in time, but I just knew looking at the other guys’ faces were going to comeback in that game,” Petty said. “With our offense and the way we play defense, 21 points is not a big deal for us. The belief in each other was outstanding.”
Many thought the game was over after the defensive touchdown, but it turned out to be an instant classic for the Baylor Nation. Saturday changed from a living nightmare to a dream performance for the Bears, specifically for Petty. Petty threw a career high six touchdowns and went 28-55 with 510 passing yards.
“I thought Bryce played outstanding. Our motto was keep it ugly. Not everything is going to go our way, but it is all about how you respond to it, and I thought Bryce responded well tonight.”
Receivers KD Cannon, Corey Coleman, Antwan Goodley and Jay Lee each caught touchdown passes from Petty of 25 yards or more, with a long of 66 yards.
Baylor’s offense totaled 782 yards Saturday night– the second most ever allowed by TCU and the most since head coach Gary Patterson took over in 2000. Petty had his heroics, including 6 touchdowns of 25 or more passing yards, but sophomore running back Shock Linwood electrified the Bears’ offense in the second half. Linwood had a career-high 29 carries and 178 yards, while averaging 6.1 yards per carry.
“I really wanted the ball,” Linwood said. “The first half I did not play very well, so going into the locker room I was mad at myself. I just told myself that I had to player better the second half. Whenever I got ball, I was playing with anger, and it paid off out on the field.”
The end of game was the only time in the entire 60 minutes of regulation that Bears had the lead. They trailed all game long and fought to the very end and came out on top. It took a near perfect fourth quarter from the Bears’ offense, defense, and, of course, special teams.
TCU’s fan base had a great turnout, claiming the entire allotment of away tickets for Saturday’s game. There were throngs of purple at McLane Stadium, and their presence was made known on both sides of action. Head coach Art Briles said the atmosphere at McLane stadium was fantastic Saturday night, especially from the home fans.
“I thought our crowd was phenomenal,” Briles said. “I am not sure if we win this on the road, but we were not on the road. It has been 35 days since we have been here so we were due. Our guys deserved it and showed a lot of character and toughness.”
The Bears will look to leverage the performance into another big performance in a week against the West Virginia Mountaineers in Morgantown, W. Va., next Saturday.