By Will Chamblee | Sports Writer, Video by Nate Smith | Broadcast Reporter
A heroic second–half push by Baylor football fell short, as a lethargic start to the game doomed the Bears to a tough 33-23 loss at the hands of rivals TCU on Halloween.
Baylor head coach Dave Aranda said he was proud of the fight his team showed in the second half to claw their way back into the game.
“That’s us,” Aranda said. “There are so many fighters here in our locker room. Guys with a ton of heart.”
Senior quarterback Charlie Brewer and the Baylor offense started off slow, going three-and-out in four of their first five drives and only mustering 21 yards of offense in the first quarter.
“We’ve got ourselves a great team,” Aranda said. “But we’ve got to be able to play 60 minutes of football and start faster and not wait for this or for that for us to get that pedal all the way down.”
TCU capitalized on Baylor’s slow start, opening the scoring five minutes into the game on their second offensive drive. Redshirt freshman running back Darwin Barlow scampered into the end zone to give TCU a 7-0 lead. Barlow had a monster game for the Horned Frogs, leading the game with 117 rushing yards and a touchdown.
TCU doubled their lead only two minutes later when junior Derius Davis had an electrifying 67-yard punt return for a touchdown.
Baylor’s nightmare start continued, as Brewer threw an ill-advised pass which junior safety La’Kendrick Van Zandt intercepted.
Sophomore quarterback Max Duggan threw a 13-yard touchdown strike to junior wide receiver Taye Barber on the ensuing drive as TCU took a 20-0 lead with 4:36 left in the first quarter. A missed extra-point from sophomore kicker Griffin Kell held the TCU lead to only 20 points.
The second quarter wasn’t much better for Baylor. TCU opened the quarter with another touchdown drive. Freshman running back Zach Evans flew past the Baylor defense en-route to a 30-yard touchdown run straight down the middle, putting TCU up 27-0.
An incomplete pass on fourth down gave TCU great field position, which the Horned Frogs converted into three points when Kell knocked home a 33-yard kick.
Baylor’s only positive came late in the second quarter. Sophomore defensive tackle Brayden Utley recovered a fumble, setting up Brewer’s longest pass of the half, a 39-yard strike to junior Josh Fleeks.
Brewer connected with sophomore tight end Ben Sims for Baylor’s first score of the game. Baylor would enter the half down 30-7, their largest deficit of the season.
Despite the large deficit, Aranda said he still thought Baylor could win the game going into the locker room at half-time.
“I thought we were going to win the game,” Aranda said. “There was disappointment, sure. But there was an energy in there, and you could feel it.”
TCU opened the second half with another field goal, this time from 34 yards out, to go up 33-7. It would be the last points TCU scored in the game.
Baylor’s defense was dominant in the second half, forcing numerous three-and-outs and holding TCU to only three points in the second half.
Baylor’s offense also came alive, sparked by another touchdown catch by Sims, which cut the deficit to 19 with three minutes left in the third quarter.
The comeback continued after a ridiculous catch by senior running back Trestan Ebner on fourth down put the Bears in field goal range. Sophomore kicker John Mayers knocked in the 27-yard field goal to put Baylor down 33-17 with 13 minutes left in the game.
The Baylor defense forced another three-and-out on the ensuing TCU drive and redshirt-freshman running back Craig ‘Sqwirl’ Williams torched the TCU defense, running for a 32-yard touchdown.
Williams had a breakout game, running for a career-high 82 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries.
Down 33-23 after the Williams score, Baylor needed the two-point conversion to make it a single score game. However, Brewer’s pass was batted down, and the two-point conversion attempt failed.
Junior safety JT Woods said that the second half was Baylor’s best–played half of the season.
“The offense was on fire and defensively we kept getting stop after stop after stop,” Woods said. “We were playing for one another and it just felt really good all around.”
Baylor was unable to score on their final drive, as the TCU defense held strong, and the Bears were unable to convert on fourth down, ending the comeback attempt.
Aranda said that while there were multiple positives to take away from the second half, the team still needed to take an extensive look at the film to make things right.
“When we have our ‘tell the truth Sunday’, we are going to dive into what went wrong, the mechanics of it and break it down so we can build it back up and make it right,” Aranda said.
“No one likes to lose,” Sims said. “Obviously energy is down. No one feels good right now. Everyone wants to get back to the drawing board and get back to work.”
Baylor will be back in action next Saturday against Iowa State in Ames, Iowa.