By Cody Soto
ARLINGTON – Tears filled the eyes of No. 5 Baylor football’s senior class as the final seconds winded down Thursday afternoon at AT&T Stadium.
The Bears (11-2, 8-1 Big 12) were only 15 minutes away from winning the Cotton Bowl heading into the fourth quarter, but in a turn of events, they walked back to the locker room empty handed.
“It’s tough especially since we’ve been there and done it, you know this feeling, so that’s why as a team I thought we fought,” senior quarterback Bryce Petty said. “We fought. We fought. We fought. We can hang our hat on that and sleep well knowing that, but some unfortunate things happened.”
Petty posted a career-high 550 passing yards for three touchdowns, including a 74-yard pass to freshman wide receiver KD Cannon for a score in the third quarter. Petty was awarded the Sanford Trophy as the most outstanding offensive player on Thursday.
However, he said it’s not about him.
“I don’t care about anything individual,” Petty said. “It’s all about the team, so you can throw for as many yards as you want or run it, but if you lose it just doesn’t feel the same.”
In the four year stretch, the senior class posted a record of 41-12, the most wins out of a senior class. They reached four straight bowl games, won two Big 12 championships and achieve top 10 status in several college rankings.
Finishing their senior season at the Cotton Bowl, arguably the third biggest bowl in the college playoff system, is a great end to what they accomplished together, senior receiver Levi Norwood said.
“It’s huge for me personally,” Norwood said. “Each one of us [in the senior class] are close to each other, and the success we’ve had is awesome and unbelievable.”
Despite the loss, the senior class believes the team will play with a chip on their shoulder in 2015, and their national contention has not gone away, senior receiver Clay Fuller said.
“They’re going to come together collectively as a group and bounce back,” Fuller said. “They will win and compete for a national championship.”
Ever since former quarterback Robert Griffin III won the Heisman trophy in 2011, this group of seniors build off of that success. The national spotlight has continued to shine on Baylor football since then.
“The foundation was already set,” Fuller said. “We helped build it, and as seniors we wanted to go into every game not picked to win and we would change people’s minds. That’s what the senior class should be known for. We changed the mindset from Baylor’s not going to win to Baylor’s going to win.”
The game is over for this senior class, but Baylor football won’t forget them. The lessons they’ve learned from each loss over the course of four seasons will guide the new group of seniors stepping up next year.
“A loss is a loss any way you cut it,” Petty said. “It comes down to execution on our part, on my part, and those guys will learn from it. Hopefully they got something out of watching us for five years, and I hate that we couldn’t pull it out for those guys, but we’re all going to learn from it and move on.”