By Ben Everett | Sports Editor
Baylor football holds a 38-20 lead over Abilene Christian at halftime of the season opener.
Despite a 13-yard carry by Hasty, Baylor’s first offensive possession fizzled out when sophomore quarterback Charlie Brewer missed senior wide receiver Jalen Hurd on a slant as the Bears were forced to punt.
Senior safety Verkedric Vaughns stuffed a short pass by ACU sophomore quarterback Luke Anthony to prompt a Wildcat punt and give Baylor the ball near midfield.
Brewer found senior wide receiver Chris Platt near the goal line, but an offensive pass interference call stalled the drive. Junior kicker Connor Martin nailed a 35-yard field goal to give Baylor a 3-0 lead with 9:39 remaining in the first quarter.
McClendon replaced Brewer on the Bears’ third series of the game and immediately found Hasty on a 34-yard pass. Two plays later, McClendon threw his first touchdown in a Baylor uniform, finding Hurd on a 25-yard pass to put the Bears up 10-0 at the 5:27 mark of the first quarter.
Following an interception by freshman linebacker Terrel Bernard which set the Bears up at the ACU 15-yard line, McClendon found junior wide receiver Marques Jones in the end-zone to put Baylor up 17-0 with 2:39 left in the first quarter. Jones, who received a scholarship last week after being a walk-on for two years, notched his first career touchdown.
ACU responded quickly with Anthony connecting on a 54-yard pass to senior wide receiver D.J. Fuller to cut the lead to 17-7 at the 1:41 mark of the first quarter.
Brewer returned to lead the Baylor offense in the second quarter, but a strong running game was the difference on Baylor’s third touchdown drive. Back-to-back runs by sophomore running back John Lovett and Hasty resulted in a score as Hasty punched it in from three yards out. Baylor took a 24-7 lead at the 11:24 mark of the second quarter after Martin’s extra point sailed through the uprights.
The Wildcats put together a steady drive and found themselves at the Baylor 8-yard line after a late hit out of bounds penalty on the Bears. Baylor junior defensive end James Lockhart sacked Anthony on third down to force a field goal attempt. Sophomore kicker Oscar Hernandez converted from 34 yards out to make it a 24-10 game with 5:30 left in the half.
Baylor responded quickly with Hasty busting loose for a 54-yard touchdown run to put the Bears up 31-10 at the 4:08 mark of the second quarter.
ACU junior running back Billy McCrary took a handoff 75 yards to the end zone on the next drive as the Wildcats cut the lead back to 31-17 just 18 seconds after Hasty’s run.
McClendon returned for the Baylor offense and found sophomore running back Trestan Ebner on a 23-yard pass to set up the Bears in enemy territory. Lovett finished the job with a 34-yard touchdown run to make it 38-17 Baylor with under two minutes remaining in the half.
The Wildcats finished off a last second drive with a 46-yard field goal as they trailed 38-20 going into the half.
The Wildcats will receive the second half kickoff.