By Will Chamblee | Sports Writer, Video by Nate Smith | Broadcast Reporter
Baylor football’s woes in Morgantown, W.Va. continued, as the Bears lost a heartbreaker to West Virginia in double overtime 27-21. Their loss record at Milan Puskar Stadium now stands at 0-5.
With the loss, Baylor falls to 1-1 on the season. Baylor head coach Dave Aranda said he feels for his players, who he said had a great week in practice
“I feel bad for our group,” Aranda said. “Thought we had some really good practices. I could feel some momentum building, so just to come up short and to be right there and to see the hurt on their faces hurts me.”
West Virginia opened the game by marching down the field, with a long 15 play, 70-yard drive, which resulted in a one-yard touchdown run from West Virginia junior quarterback Jarret Doege.
Baylor’s offense sputtered throughout the first half, unable to muster any long drives. The Bears only managed to gain 116 offensive yards and six first downs before intermission.
While the offense struggled, Aranda said he was still proud of their mentality and fortitude.
“I thought their attitude and their competitiveness was very strong,” Aranda said. “I thought they wanted to get into the fight. There was never a time where their eyes were down, or they were pointing fingers. I’m awfully proud of that.”
Baylor’s defense kept the Bears in the game, forcing three turnovers. The first came with 6:11 minutes left in the first quarter when junior linebacker Terrel Bernard sacked Doege, forcing a fumble which was recovered by senior lineman William Bradley-King.
The very next drive, sophomore kicker John Mayer missed a difficult 47-yard field goal, as he hooked the kick wide right, breaking a streak of 11 straight going back to last season.
The Baylor defense opened the second quarter strong, as Bernard forced another turnover, this time making an acrobatic interception of Doege. However, the offense was once again unable to capitalize on the good field position, as Mayer missed a 48-yard field goal off the post.
For the second drive in a row, Baylor picked off Doege again, as junior safety JT Woods recorded his first career interception, returning it 28 yards to the West Virginia 30-yard line.
Doege struggled against the Baylor secondary, which limited him to only completing short passes for the majority of the game. The Mountaineers’ signal-caller threw for 211 yards, with his longest completion only being 14 yards.
Aranda said the defense’s character and competitiveness showed through the plays they made in the first half.
“The guys were pushing each other and were challenging each other to make that next play,” Aranda said. “Just look at the character of that group.”
Following the interception, Baylor was finally able to make the breakthrough when senior quarterback Charlie Brewer threw a seven-yard pass to junior wide receiver R.J. Sneed for a touchdown. Baylor and West Virginia went into halftime tied 7-7.
Similar to Doege, Brewer struggled against the talented Mountaineers defense, throwing two interceptions. Despite his struggles, Aranda said he never considered pulling Brewer.
“Never thought about that,” Aranda said. “With Charlie in there and his ability to lead our group, his will power is cool to be around.”
Both offenses continued to struggle in the second half. West Virginia took control of the game midway through the third quarter after another long drive resulted in a one-yard touchdown run by West Virginia running back Leddie Brown.
Baylor struggled to stop Brown, who ran for 93 yards and two touchdowns. This was partly because Baylor was without three defensive linemen, junior Chidi Ogbonnaya, sophomore Gabe Hall and sophomore TJ Franklin.
Aranda said he was proud of the defense’s effort to fill in for the three missing linemen.
“Credit to the guys who stepped up and then credit to the coaches on that front and the defensive side of the ball,” Aranda said. “They had a lot of effort today. Their ‘want to’ is pretty high.”
Following the touchdown, West Virginia kept the momentum, picking off Brewer for the first of two times in the game.
Baylor was given an opportunity to tie the game when West Virginia’s return man Bryce Ford-Wheaton muffed the kick after colliding with a teammate.
However, in a controversial call, senior running back John Lovett was ruled short of the goal-line, giving West Virginia the ball on their own one-yard line with four minutes remaining in the game. Baylor’s defense held strong and Brewer threw a deep strike to junior Josh Fleeks to tie the game with 1:13 left, ultimately sending the game to overtime.
West Virginia struck first in overtime, as Ford-Wheaton redeemed himself catching a six-yard touchdown pass from Doege. It didn’t take long for Baylor to answer, as Brewer connected with sophomore Ben Sims for a touchdown on the first play of the drive.
The celebrations didn’t last long, however, as Brewer threw his second interception of the game to start the first drive of the second overtime. West Virginia was able to punch it in with Brown, giving them the win and moving them to 2-1 on the season.
The Bears finished with 256 total yards of offense. Only 27 of those were on the ground. The Mountaineers had 345 total yards of offense with 134 rushing yards. Both teams finished the game with 12 penalties each.
While the loss surely stung, Aranda said his team will bounce back and learn from their mistakes.
“Our potential is great,” Aranda said. “I know that our team is full of a bunch of high character people, so we will bounce back from this one.”
Baylor has a bye-week next week and will return to action on Oct. 17 against Oklahoma State at McLane Stadium.