By Adam Gibson | Sports Writer
Baylor football suffered its biggest loss of the season, falling to the No. 13-ranked West Virginia Mountaineers 58-14 on Thursday in Morgantown, W. Va.
The Bears, coming off a 23-17 loss to then-No. 9 Texas followed by a week off, failed to find any type of rhythm in the game. The Baylor defense came out on the field first to attempt to slow down senior quarterback Will Grier and the dynamic Mountaineer offense. After three plays for 75 yards, West Virginia found the end zone to go up 7-0 in the game in just 50 seconds. Sophomore quarterback Charlie Brewer came out to lead the Bears on their first drive hoping to respond with a touchdown of their own. The Mountaineer defense had other ideas, only allowing the Bears two yards on three plays, bringing out senior kicker Drew Galitz for the first punt of the game.
The Mountaineer offense came back on the field looking to drive down the field and extend the lead. After nine plays that took them 43 yards, West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorson brought out the field goal unit. Sophomore kicker Evan Staley attempted the 44-yard field goal, but missed his kick just wide, giving the Baylor defense a successful stop and keeping the team in the game only down by a touchdown.
Brewer came back out after the turnover on downs, but the offense did not have the ball for long. On a passing attempt to junior wide receiver Denzel Mims that bounced out of his hands, West Virginia sophomore cornerback Keith Washington Jr. intercepted the ball, bringing back out Grier.
Starting from their own 45-yard line, the Mountaineers drove all the way down to the Baylor 23 before the Bears defense was able to stop them, forcing another field goal attempt. This time, sophomore defensive end James Lynch broke through the West Virginia line and blocked the kick with 5:50 left in the first quarter.
Brewer’s struggles continued to plague him as he threw his second interception of the day on third down when another passing attempt got away from senior wide receiver Jalen Hurd’s hands. Senior safety Toyous Avery Jr. grabbed the ball to return the pick 42 yards to the Baylor 23-yard line before being taken down by Brewer.
West Virginia did not hold back at all for the rest of the half, scoring on the rest of the drives it had, back-to-back field goals, followed by four touchdowns. Baylor failed to score in the first half as Brewer threw his third interception of the day on the first play of the seventh drive for Baylor.
As the teams left the field for halftime, West Virginia went in holding a 41-0 lead over Baylor. Grier and the offense for the Mountaineers absolutely tore up the field and picked apart the Baylor defense as they went into half with 435 total yards, 302 passing and 133 rushing. The Bears meanwhile, had only 87 total yards, 31 from passing and 56 from the ground game even though they ran only nine fewer plays than the Mountaineers. Brewer had also already taken a beating, being sacked three times in the first half.
Coming out from the locker rooms, trouble immediately struck Baylor as senior wide receiver Chris Platt fumbled the kick off, giving possession right back to the red-hot West Virginia. Another field goal gave them a 44-point lead with 14:20 left to go in the third quarter.
With more struggles continuing for Brewer, head coach Matt Rhule decided to bring in senior quarterback Jalan McClendon for his first appearance since the 26-7 Kansas win Sept. 22 where he only attempted one pass. He had more success that Brewer did, leading Baylor to its first points of the game on back-to-back touchdown drives, both of which were rushing touchdowns from freshman wide receiver Josh Fleeks and McClendon in the third quarter.
Baylor failed to score any more after those two touchdowns, closing out its last two drives with a turnover on downs and two more punts. The defense for Baylor had only one sack that came early in the game from Lynch, but after that only got one more hit on him. West Virginia’s offense ended the game with 568 total yards, 396 yards passing and 172 rushing. Grier came out of the game early due to the lead over the Bears, but finished his day going 17 for 27 passing for 353 yards and three touchdowns. Brewer ended with one completion attempt for 22 yards and three interceptions. McClendon completed 16 of his 21 passes for 183 yards and had one rushing touchdown.
The Bears return back home for the first time in three weeks facing (4-3, 1-3) Oklahoma State for Homecoming at 11 a.m. Nov. 3 at McLane Stadium.