Video by Kelsea Willenbrock | Broadcast Intern and story by Nathan Keil | Sports Writer
The Baylor Bears football team was able to weather a lightning storm as well as a series of first half turnovers and penalties on their way to defeating the Oklahoma State Cowboys 35-24 on Saturday night.
After senior quarterback Seth Russell orchestrated a seven play, 75 yard scoring strike, highlighted by a 36 yard completion on third down to junior tight end Jordan Feuerbacher and capped off by a 23 yard touchdown run from sophomore runningback Terence Williams, lightning struck near Baylor’s campus and by NCAA Rule, the players were evacuated from the field and the game entered into a weather delay.
Unlike the Cowboys, who dealt with a nearly two hour weather delay last week in their 45-38 win over Pittsburgh, this was the first time that acting head coach Jim Grobe and his Bears were forced to deal the after effects of the weather.
Fortunately for the Bears, they were able to overcome the 95 minute weather delay and get back to business on both ends of the football.
“The one thing we did a good job of was we got our kids to relax,” said Grobe. “We tried not to have them stressed out. We didn’t go in and start X-ing and O-ing them.”
However, despite being able to move the football with fluidity on offense, the first half was not without its miscues and mistakes from the Bears.
After forcing junior quarterback Mason Rudolph and company to punt on their opening drive of the game, the Bears fumbled the punt return, handing the ball back to Rudolph inside the Baylor 10 yard line. The Cowboys’ redshirt freshman Justice Hill then scored from five yards out, tying the game at seven apiece.
Russell was later intercepted by senior strong outside linebacker Jordan Burton deep in Cowboys territory, halting another drive.
Russell would bounce back and find sophomore wide receiver Ishmael Zamora, in his first game since returning from suspension, for two separate 38 yard scoring strikes.
“It was huge. We knew he was going to step up,” Russell said. “He’s a great football player and he showed that tonight. He’s another weapon to put in the offense.”
Zamora finished his big night with eight receptions for 175 yards and two touchdowns.
With the offense clicking, Baylor was not afraid to take some chances offensively, going for it on fourth down twice, including once inside their own 30 yard line. However the Bears failed to convert on both occasions and left the defense with their backs against the wall.
“It seems like when our defense gets their backs against the wall, we play better. It was amazing tonight to watch the guys play so hard and at times we missed coverages and we missed some line stunts once in awhile,” Grobe said. “I thought Oklahoma State had a great plan running the football tonight. It kept the clock spinning and it kept our guys out there, but when you stay out there as long as we did tonight and still have some juice left in them at the end of the game, says a lot about the character of our defense.”
The Baylor defense continued to make plays when they needed them the most. The Bears forced and recovered three Cowboys fumbles, including the final one at the Baylor one yard line. Seth Russell and the offense was then able to use that momentum to march 99 yards down the field and put the Bears up for good with a 15 yard touchdown pass from Russell to sophomore inside receiver Chris Platt.
Platt also scored on an 89 yard scoring strike from Russell. He finished with 3 catches for 114 yards and 2 touchdowns in what turned out be his coming out party in the absence of injured junior wide receiver KD Cannon.
“It felt great. I probably haven’t opened up like that since high school,” Platt said. “So it kind of felt great to open up and see nothing but green grass and the touchdown zone.”
Baylor was able to put the Cowboys away when the defense forced the fourth turnover of the game, an interception by senior deep safety Orion Stewart.
Despite being badly beaten in time of possession, the Baylor offense finally began to look comfortable. Russell was not only effective with his arm, 18 for 28 for 387 yards and 4 touchdowns, he also kept the Oklahoma State defense honest with legs, as he led the Baylor rushing attack with 65 yards on 10 carries.
The Baylor defense, although allowing 492 yards of total offense to the Cowboys, were able to pressure Rudolph all night, recording 4 sacks, forcing him to scramble from the pocket by mixing up the defense by showing a variety of blitzes and coverages.
“That’s a huge testament to the defense,” Russell said. “They answered the call. It goes to show how hard they’ve worked and they kept us in the game and give them all the credit.”
Rudolph finished 27 for 45 for 279 yards and zero touchdowns. The Bears also limited junior wide receiver James Washington to 6 receptions for 98 yards, one week after his nine catch, 296 yard performance. However, the Cowboys did rush for 213 yards with 122 coming from Hill.
Grobe knows that the hard-earned victory tonight is just the first step in the process of working towards a Big 12 title. However, the effort Grobe saw tonight against the Cowboys was unmatched by any other team he has been around.
“We didn’t always play our best. We did some really good things,” Grobe said. “We did some things that weren’t our best. But I’ve never been around a team that gave better effort than we had tonight.”
Baylor will travel next Saturday to take on the Iowa State Hawkeyes in Ames. Kickoff is set for 11 a.m.