Baylor struggles early at home vs Texas

Devin Chafin carries the ball. Penelope Shirey, photographer

By Joshua Davis, Sports Writer.

At halftime, the No. 12 Baylor Bears trail the Texas Longhorns 20-0 at McLane Stadium. The first half marks the first time since 2011 that the Bears have failed to score before the intermission.

Coming off a heartbreaking loss to rival TCU, the Bears appeared disinterested from the very beginning.

The Baylor offense seemed dedicated to junior wide receiver Corey Coleman to start the game, as they gave him the ball on three straight plays. But after the Bears went away from the All-American, they were unable to remain effective.

After marching down into Texas territory, Baylor was forced to go for it on fourth down. The Bears were unable to convert and turned the ball over on downs, though.

It was the first time all season that head coach Art Briles’ squad failed to score a touchdown on their first possession.

The Longhorns seized the momentum after the turnover and capitalized three plays later when junior quarterback Tyrone Swoopes threw a 57-yard touchdown pass to junior tight end Caleb Bluiett.

From that point, things only got worse for the Bears.

Baylor continued to look uninspired on both sides of the ball and was forced to punt on its next drive.

Penalties and lackadaisical play on defense allowed the Longhorns to mount a drive that culminated in a 23-yard field goal. The score gave Texas a two possession lead and fans of the Bears began to seem anxious after some uncharacteristic play from the Green and Gold.

To make matters worse, sophomore quarterback Chris Johnson took a vicious hit on the first play from scrimmage, after the ensuing kickoff. The blow caused Johnson to fumble the football and the Longhorns recovered.

After several minutes on the field, Johnson was helped off the field by the medical staff. Later, Baylor medical staff ruled that he suffered a concussion and is out for the remainder of the game.

Taking advantage of the turnover and superb field position, head coach Charlie Strong’s side extended their lead to 17-0 after Swoopes ran a 9-yard keeper for the score.

Without a true QB, the Bears struggled to move the ball downfield. Junior wide receiver Lynx Hawthorne came in to man the ship for Baylor, but his inexperience and lack of throwing ability showed. Hawthorne completed four passes on 13 attempts for 22 yards with two interceptions.

With its backs against the wall, the Bears’ defense played with more intensity after starting sluggish by limiting Texas to three points in the second quarter.

Unfortunately for the home team, its offense wasn’t able to match the defense’s effort.

The Bears best chance at a score in the first half came in the form of a 40-yard field goal attempt. But sophomore kicker Chris Callahan couldn’t break the scoreless drought.

After what many would describe as an abysmal first half by the No. 1 offense in the nation, Briles and the coaching staff will look to regroup during the intermission.