By Jessika Harkay | Sports Writer
The narrative that seems to lead No. 18 Baylor football’s undefeated season (7-0) is the importance of second-half play. Trailing at halftime, the Bears were in a position to respond and in what became a back-and-forth battle at Boone Pickens Stadium, the Baylor overtook Oklahoma State 45-27.
The first half was an offensive standstill on both sides, with nearly identical statistics on both sides and the Cowboys on top 13-10 into intermission.
The fight to get back into the game didn’t begin until OSU scored a touchdown after converting a 4th and 7 with a fake punt to open their first possession of the half.
Head coach Matt Rhule knew it his team was going to have to step up.
“We told our whole team it would take all of you guys,” Rhule said. “We talked this morning about how one man can be attacked and defeated, two men can stand back-to-back and defend and conquer, and three men are like a triple-braided rope. We wanted to be a triple-braided rope today. It wasn’t perfect, but we didn’t panic.”
The touchdown would put Oklahoma State on top 20-10 with 9:35 left in the third quarter, and marked the largest deficit Baylor has faced this season. The Bears were not worried, however, as freshman safety JT Woods said the defense just laughed it off.
“We have a ‘What’s next?’ mentality,” Woods said. “We preach that to the team ‘What’s next? What’s next?’ Once the play happened, ‘What’s next?’ The defense went back on the field and we just played the best game be could play.”
It only took two drives and 57 seconds for Baylor to counter and make its presence known. Sophomore wide receiver Tyquan Thornton caught a slant and took off on the left sideline for 78 yards, the longest reception of his career and the longest career-pass for junior quarterback Charlie Brewer.
The Bears were back in business inside of the Cowboys’ five, paving the way for a rushing touchdown from junior running back JaMycal Hasty and an extra point. The comeback story began to unravel as the Bears were only behind 20-17.
For Hasty, facing adversity only leads to improvement.
“You get to see yourself on tape and you know what you have to do now,” Hasty said. “It’s detailed, deliberate work, deliberate focus. You have to go in there and improve on things and it isn’t just me, it’s everybody on this team.”
The Cowboys weren’t able to get anything going in their next drive, traveling 28 yards before being held to a punt.
Baylor came out swinging again, opening their third drive of the half on their own seven. Brewer completed a pass to freshman wide receiver Josh Fleeks for 18 yards, but after four ground carries and unable to move the ball, the offense seemed to stall.
On a second-and-10 from their own 34, Brewer found Fleeks again, but this time for a 64-yard touchdown, giving Baylor the lead 24-20.
Entering the fourth quarter, OSU was able to find hope of a spark after running back LD Brown found the endzone with an impressive 68-yard carry of his own.
Trailing by three, Baylor engineered its longest scoring drive of the day. The Bears marched down the field with another Fleeks reception for 44 yards and 27 more on two pass-interference penalties called against OSU. Brewer rushed two yards up the middle for his first rushing touchdown of the day to bring the Bears up 38-27.
Brewer credited the shift in the game to establishing a “groove” and feeding off being underestimated.
“I think we just started rolling,” Brewer said. “We saw that we were underdogs. It was definitely in the back of our heads a little bit. We got the win and that’s what matters.”
As the Bears began to click on both sides of the ball, the Cowboys found themselves in a standstill, unable to finish drives into their opponents’ territory, especially failing to convert on a crucial fourth-and-4 on Baylor’s 27 with 5:31 remaining.
As Rhule’s team took over on downs, Hasty broke out a massive 73-yard touchdown run. The next possession for Oklahoma State sealed the game, as redshirt freshman QB Spencer Sanders fumbled the ball on the OSU 28, allowing senior linebacker Jordan Williams to recover the ball and rush in for his first career touchdown.
The Bears finished the game outscoring Oklahoma State 35-7 in the second half, something Hasty said didn’t even cross their minds when they began gaining momentum.
“At one point, I didn’t even know the score, I was just out there playing,” the running back said. “We just finally kind of clicked. We just have to keep playing hard and we’re seeing the results.”
After moving to 7-0 on the season and 3-0 in conference play, the Bears next host West Virginia at 7 p.m. on Halloween at McLane Stadium.