Bears fall to Texas Tech for fifth straight loss

Junior safety/linebacker Jalen Pitre returns an interception for a touchdown in the first half 24-23 loss to Texas Tech Saturday in Lubbock. Pitre also had a pick-6 last week against Iowa State. Photo courtesy of Texas Tech Athletics

By DJ Ramirez | Sports Editor

LUBBOCK — Baylor football’s drought in Lubbock continues. Leading for most of the game, the Bears went scoreless in the fourth quarter, allowing Texas Tech to make the comeback win 24-23 with a late field goal Saturday evening at Jones AT&T Stadium.

The Red Raiders cut Baylor’s lead to just two points in the fourth quarter with 10 unanswered points with a TD and a field goal on back-to-back scoring drives. The Bears had a little under five minutes to place a cushion in their lead but after six plays and 31 yards, were stopped at the Red Raider 44-yard line.

Tech played on the offensive for the remaining 2:14. Bowman and the Red Raiders drove down from their own 4-yard line in a 12-play, 79-yard scoring drive, sending the winning field goal through with two seconds left in the game. The first blow came on a 30-yard pass by Tech sophomore quarterback Alan Bowman to sophomore running back SaRodorick Thompson.

TTU advanced towards the BU 24 before Baylor called a timeout. A few plays later, Thompson broke through the Bears’ coverage for a 15-yard rush that placed the Raiders in field goal position with four seconds to go. Tech and Baylor traded their final timeouts, killing two seconds off the clock before Jonathan Garibay sent the walk-off score through the uprights.

“We’ve been through a fair amount of adversity,” head coach Dave Aranda said. “We added some more to our plate tonight. This was a game where I thought we played well enough to win. It’s disappointing that we couldn’t finish.”

Several notable players were missing for the Bears, including senior running back John Lovett and sophomore tight end Ben Sims, as well as senior running back Trestan Ebner who logged in a few snaps at the beginning of the game but left early due to feeling some tightness, according to Aranda.

Qualan Jones filled in at running back and led the Bears in rushing with 21 carries for 86 yards with a long of 15. He was followed by senior QB Charlie Brewer who ran for 16 for 76 yards with a long of 16. Freshman RB Taye McWilliams came in later in the game to record six carries and 31 yards.

“I thought there was a lot of positives, I think there’s a fair amount that we can improve on,” Aranda said of the young running backs that filled in. “ I thought for both of them, the most playing time they’ve ever had, their ability to attack us, to help us in our effort, was very good. Something to build upon.”

Brewer’s passing was another story, as he only completed 17 of 26 passes for 153 yards. He threw an interception and was sacked twice. His one touchdown was on the ground.

Baylor lost the toss and started the game with a scoreless seven-play, 34-yard drive. Texas Tech then embarked on a nine-play, 29-yard scoring drive that ended with a 48-yard field goal off the foot of Garibay, aided by the wind.

Baylor finally got on the board with less than a minute left in the first quarter on a pick-six by junior STAR linebacker/safety Jalen Pitre, marking his second straight game with a pick six. John Mayers’s kick was good to make it 7-3 Bears going into the second quarter.

“That was a big play for us. I think there was some wait and see in terms of what was coming out of their offense, and the wind was a big factor in the game, I think. At that time of the pick-six, it opened up some things.”

Pitre immediately followed the interception up with what looked like a safety on Henry Colombi, but the play was ruled an incomplete pass, going down as a QB hurry for Pitre on the stat line. The junior added seven tackles, five of them solo, and a tackle for a loss of 6 yards.

Tech punted to start the second quarter after a holding call on the Red Raiders lost them 15 yards and a combined tackle by Dillon Doyle and Christian Morgan brought down ball-carrier Xavier White to force a fourth down at the TTU 28.

The Bears strung together a 14-play, 61-yard scoring drive over the next 6:45 that ended in Mayers’s FG. Brewer and the offense converted on 4th-and-two with a 5-yard run by Jones and strung together a trio of first downs to put Baylor at the TTU 35. Three plays later Brewer put the Bears at first-and-goal with an 8-yard third down dash, but couldn’t get through for a touchdown, bringing Mayers out to kick.

The Red Raiders then ate up the next six minutes with a 15-play, 65-yard drive of their own to cut into Baylor’s lead with another FG. That left Baylor with little over a minute to charge down the field before the half.

A 24-yard pass to RJ Sneed on third down and a five-yard toss to Gavin Holmes put Baylor at the TTU 31. It looked as if Aranda was sending the kicking team out on 2nd and five before he called up a timeout. Brewer was sent out for one more play, an incomplete pass to Holmes, before Mayers came out to kick another one through the uprights and give Baylor a 13-6 lead into the half.

Texas Tech received to start the second half but fumbled on the fourth play of the drive. Doyle recovered for Baylor and the Bears converted with their first offensive touchdown of the game. Brewer found a gap and scrambled straight in for the score, recording his first rushing TD of the season.

Redshirt freshman defensive tackle Garmon Randalph ended TTU’s next drive with his first career sack, taking down Henry Columbi after three plays. Colombi had already been sacked once by William Bradley-King in the first half.

Brewer was then immediately intercepted by senior corner Zech McPherson. Alan Bowman was sent back into the game after Randalph’s hit on Columbi. The sophomore drove Tech into its first touchdown of the night. Baylor’s Josh Landry blocked the kick, completing his first career block to leave the score at 20-12 in BU’s favor.

Baylor and Tech traded punts before the Bears sent another ball through the uprights for Mayers’s third FG of the game. Brewer started out with a 10-yard run for a first down and followed it up with a 4-yard toss to Holmes and a 14-yard throw to freshman tight end Drake Dabney.

Three plays later BU converted another third down with a 15-yard run by Jones. Brewer rushed it in on back-to-back plays to bring the Bears into first-and-goal but Tech’s defense held Baylor away from the end zone. Brewer once again tried to rush it in for a score but was met with a brick wall in Texas Tech senior linebacker Colin Schooler. BU settled for the FG.

Doyle, who finished the night with nine tackles, five solo, and one tackle for a loss of 15 yards, said that the team had been working on starting fast, but they still need to work on playing a complete game.

“ I think everybody’s disappointed with the outcome, that’s no secret, but you take the good with the bad. You see some of the things that we’re improving on,” Doyle said.

Baylor will have a bye week before hosting Kansas State on Nov. 28.