No. 10 Bears grind out gritty first half

Sophomore running back Johnny Jefferson runs the ball during the first half against Oklahoma State on Nov. 21, 2015, at Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater, Okla. Photo credit: Sarah Pyo

STILLWATER, OKLA. – Going into halftime, the Baylor Bears lead the Oklahoma State Cowboys by a score of 24-14. In a game that has been marred by spotty officiating, both offenses came out the gates firing. However, the second quarter was full of timely defensive stops.

The Cowboys came out on the field draped in smoke ready for the game. As the Bears came out onto the field, the smoke from the OSU entrance and the sound from the Cowboys’ fans were all around them. That didn’t faze them one bit.

The Bears answered the bell early and quickly, per usual. The Bears opened the game by scoring in just 56 seconds. After opening the game with a 48 yard connection between Jarrett Stidham and Corey Coleman, Shock Linwood carried the ball three times, including a 10 yard score.

The Cowboys subsequent drive was smudged in controversy, a trend that befell the first half. After a 5-yard completion Mason Rudolph completion to Brandon Shepard, Baylor linebacker Grant Campbell ran into the end zone with the football. Campbell had stripped Shepard of the football as he was going down, although Campbell himself was clearly down.

Upon further review, the referees determined Campbell had not even gained possession of the ball, a call that left most everyone stunned in the stadium. Although the Cowboys would eventually punt on the drive, the tone was set for a poorly called game.

Following this punt, Stidham found KD Cannon down the right sideline for a 59 yard score. With the Bears up 14, Boone Pickens was silent. However that would soon change.

The Cowboys reeled off two consecutive scoring drives, tying up the game. In all, both teams gained a combined 446 yards of offense, 344 of which were through the air.

The second quarter was a different story altogether. After Devin Chafin punched in a one yard score to open the second quarter, the Bears and Cowboys would combine for 169 yards of offense in the entire quarter.

While the Bears managed to crack a late field goal, both defenses have played absolutely amazing. By the same token, the Bears’ offense has not looked very good.

Baylor fumbled the ball twice in the second quarter, with OSU recovering both. The first was shrouded in controversy amongst Baylor fans. Shock Linwood ran up the gut, putting the ball on the ground. However officials blew the ball dead, believing at the time that Linwood was down. This allowed for an OSU defender to pick up the ball out of mere technicality, giving the ball back to the officials immediately. The fumble was reviewed and the ball gifted to the Cowboys, much to the dismay of Art Briles and the Bears. If the whistle blows, the play should not be reviewed. Period.

Although the Cowboys would again punt following a strange call, the momentum certainly feels controlled by the Cowboys’ faithful. Stidham was sacked in the closing minutes of the quarter, again giving OSU the ball and again the Baylor defense forcing a punt.

Gang Green has played tremendous but the offense simply has not taken advantage of the possessions. Oklahoma State has only gained 188 yards on Baylor to Baylor’s 439 yet the Bears hold only a 10 point lead.

The Bears must come out of the locker room more fired up on the offensive side of the ball. While the story of the season has been the defense making second half adjustments, this game seems to be on the offense.

Stidham has played well, though not up to his Kansas State standard. The freshman has completed 12 of 21 for 258 yards and the lone touchdown. KD Cannon has also exploded on the outside, catching 4 balls for 139 yards, including the touchdown.

On the ground, apart from the fumble, Shock Linwood has also run well. Linwood has carried the ball 18 times for 85 yards while Johnny Jefferson has chipped in 11 carries for 45 yards.

For Baylor to hold on to this lead and leave with their first Stillwater win since 1939, they must play better on the offensive side and take advantage of the defense’s great play.