By Bailey Brammer | Broadcast Managing Editor
Vanderbilt currently leads Baylor 21-17 at halftime in the Academy Sports + Outdoors Texas Bowl in Houston.
The Bears’ defense struggled against the Commodores’ big plays, but sophomore quarterback Charlie Brewer threw 11-15, connecting with six receivers for 153 passing yards and led Baylor’s rushing yards with 51.
Baylor takes on Vanderbilt minus leading senior wide receiver Jalen Hurd, who underwent knee surgery in early December, as well as two-time All-Big 12 senior punter Drew Galitz, who tore his ACL before the Texas Tech game on Nov. 24.
Baylor settled for a field goal on its first drive after an incomplete pass from Brewer to junior wide receiver Denzel Mims on third down and five with 9:24 left in the first quarter.
The Bears forced Vandy to punt on its second drive of the quarter and Commodore defensive back Elijah Hamilton was penalized 15 yards for kick catching interference.
Baylor took the ball back and scored on a nine-play drive after going for it on a fourth down and one with just over two minutes left to bring the score to 10-7. Sophomore running back John Lovett ran the ball up the middle 12 yards for the touchdown.
Vanderbilt responded with another long touchdown at the end of the first quarter from redshirt junior running back Ke’Shawn Vaughn to take the lead back at 14-10.
Junior running back JaMycal Hasty picked up a second touchdown for the Bears on an 18-yard run with 11:33 left in the half to put Baylor back up 17-14.
Less than two minutes later, Vaughn broke away yet again on third long touchdown for the Commodores, this time for 69 yards to take back the lead at 21-17.
After being known all season for playing it safe on fourth downs, the Bears went for twice more to pick up first downs and continue their drive, which began with 9:57 left. Brewer lobbed the ball to freshman wide receiver on a 30-yard pass to Tyquan Thornton to put the Bears in the red zone.
Instead of going for it a fourth time, the Bears passed it off to junior kicker Connor Martin, who couldn’t connect from 25 yards out and missed the field goal that would take back the lead after a 16-play drive.
Vandy attempted to score one more touchdown in the last two minutes of the half, but Shurmur struggled to connect with his receivers. The Commodores brought out junior kicker Ryley Guay with seven seconds left to try to pick up a field goal. After a penalty each for both the Bears and the Commodores and a repeat second down, Guay missed the field goal and left the score 21-17.
The Bears will receive the kickoff at the start of the second half.