Defense still lifting Bears in fall to No. 11 Sooners

Baylor's Abram Smith goes after Oklahoma's Rhamondre Stevenson during the Bears 27-14 loss to the Sooners on Saturday in Norman, Okla. Photo by Joshua R. Gateley | Courtesy of Oklahoma Athletics

By DJ Ramirez | Sports Editor

Even though they held No. 11 Oklahoma to its lowest yardage and points of the year, Baylor football was unable to get the win against the Sooners, falling 27-14 Saturday night in Norman, Okla.

The Bears went into the game without senior running back John Lovett and redshirt freshman RB Qualan Jones and lost senior running back Trestan Ebner and sophomore tight end Ben Sims to injuries during the game.

Playing without most of his usual offensive weapons, senior starting quarterback Charlie Brewer took on the burden of the loss onto his own shoulders, saying it was up to him to do more for the team offensively.

“I think whatever is asked of me, I need to do at a high level,” Brewer said. “I’m not going to sit here and make an excuse for or that. I touch the ball every play, so I’ve got to make something happen. If we can’t run the ball, then I’ve got to somehow make something happen in the passing game.”

Even with the loss, Baylor outgained Oklahoma, putting up 288 yards of offense, 263 of which were through the air. Brewer completed 30 of 56 attempts, setting a school-record 815 completions. However, he was also intercepted twice and was sacked three times.

Coming off what was perhaps their best game of the season against Kansas State, the Bears were held scoreless in the first half. Sophomore kicker John Mayers, who had the winning field goal in the win over the Wildcats, went 0-for-2 in field goal attempts in the first half.

Baylor’s defense continued to keep the Bears in the game, as has been the trend this season. In his third consecutive start, junior linebacker Abram Smith led the team in tackles for the third straight week, tallying up a total of 12 with four for a loss as well as his first career sack. The Bears sacked OU freshman quarterback Spencer Rattler four times on hits by Smith, junior linebacker Jalen Pitre, sophomore defensive tackle Josh Landry and junior safety Christian Morgan.

Head coach Dave Aranda said he was proud of the team for playing with maximum effort against an Oklahoma program that hasn’t gained under 300 yards of offense since 2015.

“There are a lot of guys who played through a lot . . . who had the opportunity to not give max effort and they chose to give max effort,” Aranda said. “I’m proud of those guys. I’m proud of the fight we showed. We have to execute better. On particular sides of the ball, we can get better, and we need to be better. That was my challenge.”

Oklahoma got on the board with a field goal on a 10-play, 72-yard drive after redshirt freshman LB Matt Jones and senior cornerback Raleigh Texada took down OU senior RB Rhamondre Stevenson on back-to-back rushing plays for no gain. Then on third-and-goal Landry got the tackle on Rattler to force the kick.

Baylor started steady in its first offensive drive, advancing 46 yards on 14 plays, with Brewer completing passes to senior wide receiver RJ Sneed, Sims, Ebner and sophomore wide receiver Gavin Holmes for first-downs to put the Bears within Sooner territory. Oklahoma then applied enough pressure to force a loss of a yard and back-to-back incomplete passes forced the Bears to go for a 46-yard field goal that was just short.

The Sooners started their next drive on a sour note thanks to a sack of Rattler by Pitre who then made the tackle on OU freshman WR Marvin Mims to force third down. Baylor senior linebacker William Bradley-King then put a stop to a Stevenson run to send Baylor back on the offensive. But despite taking good field position off a 12-yard punt from OU, the Bears couldn’t get anything going, forcing Mayers to kick once again. The 47-yard field goal attempt was once again short.

With both defenses in high gear for most of the second quarter, both teams traded drives throughout the quarter until Oklahoma found the end-zone with just over a minute left until the half. The Bears entered the half down just 10-0.

Baylor received to start the third quarter but went three-and-out after Brewer was sacked to start the drive. The Sooners then embarked on five play, 52-yard scoring drive, which culminated with a 9-yard touchdown pass from Rattler to OU sophomore Theo Wease to put OU ahead 17-0.

The Bears were finally able to answer with a scoring drive of their own. After advancing 46 yards on 13 plays to the OU 25, Baylor caught a break with an offside penalty against Oklahoma’s Marcus Stripling. Then on fourth-and-3 Brewer lobbed a 25-yard pass to Tyquan Thornton for the touchdown. The extra point by Mayers was good.

OU added a field goal to start the fourth quarter before adding another touchdown on its next drive when Rattler found junior H-back Brayden Willis in the end-zone with an 8-yard pass.

Brewer and the Bears fought their way through a 17-play, 96-yard drive with just over five minutes left to play. Brewer punched in the 2-yard run for the touchdown. Oklahoma punted in its final drive after which Baylor took over with just 30 seconds left on the clock. Five plays and six yards later, brewer was sacked by OU redshirt junior Isaiah Thomas to end the game.

The Sooners will play West Virginia next week before heading to the Big 12 title game against Iowa State on Dec. 19. Baylor will wrap up the season at home in the rescheduled matchup against Oklahoma State next Saturday.