By Harper Mayfield | Sports Writer
Baylor football dropped its fourth straight game on Saturday, this time losing 38-31 to the No. 17 Iowa State Cyclones in Ames, Iowa.
“To make a run at the end and not get it is just very disappointing. It’s a gut punch, really,” Baylor head coach Dave Aranda said.
Baylor jumped out to an early lead, led by a strong start from senior quarterback Charlie Brewer. Brewer finished the game with 295 passing yards, his highest total of the season. Brewer’s passes found the end zone three times, tying his season best. Brewer also led the Bears in rushing yards, with 38.
Baylor’s running game continued to struggle, not aided by the loss of Craig ‘Sqwirl’ Williams. Williams left the game with a knee injury and would not return. Prior to his exit, Williams had 28 yards on six carries. Junior linebacker Terrel Bernard also experienced a shoulder injury, but did return to play.
“[Williams] doesn’t look good right now,” Aranda said. “It’s his other knee. The diagnosis is not promising. I’m going to wait until we get a further look at it, but not very good right now.”
The Bears’ defense was a bright spot, picking off Iowa State quarterback Brock Purdy three times in the game. Junior defensive back Jalen Pitre was able to return one of those interceptions for a touchdown, giving Baylor a 21-7 lead over the Cyclones in the second quarter.
The first quarter was a strong one for Baylor, as the Bears kept Iowa State off the board entirely. The Bears ended the first Iowa State drive of the game with an interception by junior cornerback Kalon Barnes. After taking over from the Cyclones, Brewer took the Bears down the field and put points on the board with a touchdown pass to junior receiver RJ Sneed.
Interceptions would continue to be a theme for Baylor in the first, as senior cornerback Raleigh Texada picked off Purdy on Iowa State’s second drive. Baylor’s ensuing offensive drive would end very similarly to the first, with a Brewer touchdown pass, this time to freshman tight end Drake Dabney, which would give the Bears a 14-0 lead.
“To come out starting fast like that was pretty good for us, and we need to continue that,” Sneed said.
The second quarter saw more high level play from Baylor, with Pitre’s pick-six return putting the Bears up 21-7 early. Before the quarter was out, though, Iowa State would tack on a field goal to trim the lead to 21-10 before the half.
The third quarter began with an Iowa State three-and-out, which would allow Baylor to add a field goal, extending the lead to two touchdowns at 24-10. The Cyclones made short work of the next drive, needing only two plays to find the end zone and cut the deficit to 24-17. Another short drive from Iowa State would tie the game at 24. Baylor’s struggles in the third continued as Purdy hit up tight end Chase Allen with another touchdown pass, putting the Cyclones on top 31-24.
The fourth wasn’t any kinder to the Bears, as Baylor’s first drive in the quarter would end in a blocked punt, putting Iowa State in position to score and push the lead to 38-24. Baylor wasn’t done yet, as Brewer was able to engineer another scoring drive, this time finding senior running back Trestan Ebner for a 58-yard score to bring the Bears within seven.
After a failed Iowa State drive, Baylor had a chance to score and tie the game at 38. The Bears found themselves inside the Iowa State 15-yard line, but Brewer’s intended pass to Sneed was intercepted by the Cyclones, ending Baylor’s hopes of overtime.
“It’s disappointing to struggle like we did in the second half, but it did feel like we kind of let the outside affect the inside, in terms of one side of the ball affecting the next,” Aranda said. “So, to come out of that at the end was a positive. We need to come out of that sooner.”
Baylor will be back on the field on Nov. 14, as they continue their road stint with a trip to Lubbock to face off against Texas Tech. The game is scheduled to start at 3 p.m., and will air on FS1.