Video by Christina Soto | Broadcast Reporter and story by Nathan Keil | Sports Writer
Prior to kickoff against the Kansas State Wildcats, Baylor recognized its twelve seniors, including quarterback Seth Russell, who rode in on his golf cart to the roaring applause of the Baylor faithful. This emotional boost wasn’t enough to lift Baylor to victory, as they fell for the fourth week in a row, 42-21 against Kansas State.
“I thought Kansas State played really well. But I will say that with four losses, I think that the last two weeks, we have had really good practices. And so the guys haven’t given up, we’re just not playing well enough to win right now. The thing that’s a little bit disappointing, and you got to give credit to other good players, but I thought we didn’t tackle very well today and that really hurt us defensively, because we had chances to get off the field,” said acting head coach Jim Grobe. “Some of our third down situations where it was third and long, we didn’t get off the field and that’s really disappointing. Those are things that, to beat good teams, you got to get off the field on third down. Especially when it’s third and long. We didn’t do that today.”
Baylor turned its offense over to true freshman quarterback Zach Smith. The Bears were able to loosen up Smith’s arm with a couple of short completions, however, the drive would result in a punt as the defenses dominated the first half for both teams.
Baylor and Kansas exchanged punts and struggled with discipline as penalties became huge factors in extending drives. Baylor would take advantage of penalties to march into Kansas State territory on its second possession, however, sophomore wide receiver Ishmael Zamora fumbled the ball inside the five yard line, giving the ball back to the Wildcats.
The Baylor defense was up for the challenge, forcing two turnovers in the first half, both of which led to Baylor touchdowns. The first came after sophomore wide receiver and punt returner Dominue Heath muffed the punt inside the 20-yard line. This led to a 25-yard touchdown pass from Smith to redshirt freshman wide receiver Blake Lynch. The second one came on a 24-yard touchdown pass to sophomore wide receiver Chris Platt, following a fumble by Kansas State junior quarterback Jesse Ertz.
Kansas State did not abandon its game plan of running the football with Ertz and freshman running back Alex Barnes, limiting Baylor’s offensive possessions and controlling the clock.
After Baylor scored its first touchdown, Ertz orchestrated a six play, 90-yard drive, including a 40-yard run on fourth down to keep the drive alive. Sophomore fullback Winston Dimel punched it in the end zone from two yards out on the next play. The Wildcats continued to run the ball with success as running Barnes would rush for four touchdowns in the second half on runs of 11, 1, 2, and 9 yards.
“Well, I just liked that he did what he always does, and that’s run extremely hard,” Kansas State head coach Bill Snyder said. “He makes a few miss on his way, sometimes, not always, but he’s a gifted, powerful-type runner, which we have always known, I think.”
In the second half, it was Kansas State who took advantage of Baylor’s offensive miscues. The Wildcats’ defense intercepted Smith three times, including one in the end zone, stopping any momentum that Baylor was trying to create.
“We just didn’t go out and execute like we had to. K-State came out and executed and they played really great football,” Smith said. “We, offense or defense, we didn’t execute coming out for the second half and when you don’t do that, you lose.”
Baylor, without redshirt freshman running back JaMychal Hasty and sophomore running back Terence Williams, senior running back Shock Linwood carried most of the rushing burden for the Bears. The Wildcats held him to 1110 yards on 24 carries in his final game at McLane Stadium.
Baylor refused to go away, as they cut Kansas State’s lead to 28-21on Smith’s third touchdown pass of the game, this one a 19-yard strike to redshirt freshman wide receiver Pooh Stricklin midway through the fourth.
Kansas State responded quickly on a two yard run by Dimel, set up by the long kickoff return by the Wildcats, putting Kansas State back up 14, 35-21.
Kansas State then solidified its victory at McLane with Barnes’ fourth touchdown, a nine yard touchdown run. The Wildcats ran for 239 yards on the ground, including Barnes, who ran for 129 yards and four touchdowns.
Kansas State controlled the ball throughout the game, holding the ball for more than 35 minutes. The Wildcats’ defense forced four turnovers, and sacked Smith four times and as a result, won the battle in the trenches. Baylor was held to 368 yards of offense. Smith finished his first start at quarterback 27 for 45 for 258 yards and three touchdowns and three interceptions.
Baylor now looks to stop its current four game losing streak, as it enters a short week of preparation for Texas Tech. Despite the losing streak, Baylor still believes there is a lot to play for.
“The mood of the team is we just have to rally together. Right now the easiest thing to do is to abandon ship, play the blame game, point fingers. Right now, we have two regular season games, we have a bowl game that we need to prepare for,” junior nickel back Travon Blacnhard said. “Right now, we’re not making the plays we need to make when we need to make them. We need to play better offense, defense, special teams. So as a team, we need to rally together and commit to getting better.”
Baylor takes on Texas Tech 5 p.m. Friday at AT&T Stadium in Dallas.