By Harper Mayfield | Sports Writer, Video by Nate Smith | Broadcast Reporter
Baylor got its second win of the season, beating Kansas State 32-31 on a cold and rainy Saturday night at McLane Stadium. Sophomore kicker John Mayers hit a 30-yard field goal as time expired to break the Bears’ five-game losing streak.
Head coach Dave Aranda’s first season in Waco has been filled with adversity, and even in one of this season’s high points, he and the team had to fight through a negative mindset.
“I think that losing breeds losing,” Aranda said. “I think for us as coaches, a lot of the players, the leadership with our players, you just fight the natural instinct that when something goes bad it’s gonna lead to something else going bad.”
Starring for the Bears was senior quarterback Charlie Brewer, who totaled 349 passing yards, 56 rushing yards and four total touchdowns. Other big nights came from junior receivers RJ Sneed and Josh Fleeks, both of whom had six catches on the night. Despite his dominance Brewer was quick to credit his teammates. While Brewer wouldn’t give himself his due, senior running back Trestan Ebner was quick to commend Brewer’s performance.
“Charlie is the Baylor program. Charlie is what defines Baylor football,” Ebner said. “He’s hardworking. He’s tough. He puts his all into the game. People have seen him be physical and be tough today, but they overlook that in the losses.”
The third quarter saw a reinvigorated Baylor team. Big plays from Ebner and Sneed lead to two scores for the Bears, trimming the deficit to just two points after a failed two-point conversion. Baylor also managed to keep the Wildcats off the board during the quarter.
The Wildcats added to their lead in the fourth quarter with a 25-yard run by freshman QB Will Howard to which the Bears responded with a TD to Ebner on an 8-yard pass, cutting the deficit back down to two points, 24-22. Freshman running back Deuce Vaughn expanded K-State’s lead once again with 38-yard touchdown run. Brewer then took Baylor on a nine play, 54-yard drive, and drove in a one-yarder with just over four minutes left to play.
The Bears’ defense came up big in K-State’s final drive, forcing a punt for Baylor to try and make something happen with just under two minutes left on the clock.
Brewer, looking like the player that led Baylor to the Sugar Bowl a year ago, hit receiver after receiver to set up Mayers for the game-winner on a 10-play, 57-yard drive. An opportunity to save a game carries with it a good deal of pressure, especially considering the special teams miscues the Bears suffered in the first half, but Mayers said he remained calm with the game on the line.
“Coach [Matthew] Powledge asked me what my preference was and I said … ‘It doesn’t matter, it’s going in anyway,” Mayers said.
Baylor’s first quarter was up and down. The Bears ended K-State’s first possession with an interception by junior safety JT Woods. Later in the quarter, Woods would be ejected for targeting. Brewer scored Baylor’s only points of the quarter on a 7-yard scramble. However, Baylor would fail to get the PAT in the air after a high snap.
Baylor then gave up two unanswered touchdowns to the Wildcats in the first, one on a 75-yard run by K-State sophomore wide receiver Malik Knowles and another on an 8-yard pass to Vaughn. At the end of one, Baylor had gained only nine yards of offense, totaling -7 yards rushing and 16 through the air.
The second quarter didn’t do the Bears any favors either, as Kansas State continued to extend its lead with a field goal. An interception by junior safety Christian Morgan seemed to give Baylor some life, but the team failed to capitalize. Brewer put together several solid runs, including a 20-yarder that brought Baylor inside the K-State 40, but the Bears didn’t find the end zone or the uprights, going into the half down 17-6.
Baylor will be back on the field Dec. 5 for a trip to Norman to take on Oklahoma in a rematch of last year’s Big 12 championship.