Baylor puts on dominant performance in home opener

By Michael Haag | Sports Writer, Video by Joe Pratt | Broadcast Reporter

Baylor football (2-0) defeated Texas Southern University (0-2) 66-7 in an offensive showcase at McLane Stadium Saturday night. The Bears finally got in sync in the passing game, as they recorded 714 total yards of offense: 295 yards passing and 419 yards rushing. The offense, as a whole, dominated in all facets of the game as Baylor looks to continue getting their team chemistry down heading into Big 12 play.

“We got better in a lot of areas,” head coach Dave Aranda said. “I think the area to me where I feel the most improvement is team-unity-me; where the team is most important. I just think the belief in [the] team, the value in [the] team, I could feel that tonight.”

Baylor came into this matchup as heavy favorites to win and could have come into the game underestimating their opponent. However, the Bears put that doubt to rest early on and never let up. Junior quarterback Gerry Bohanon said they took their weekly game plan seriously and treated it like any other matchup.

“From literally Monday’s practice to the game, everybody was focused,” Bohanon said. “I feel like out there in that game we took it one play at a time to try to get better. We didn’t overlook anybody, literally just us working on us.”

The Bears’ rushing attacks continued to be a big factor, as the three running backs ran for over 100 yards each. The senior running back duo of Trestan Ebner and Abram Smith continued to explode for big gains, finishing the first half with over 100 yards apiece and finishing with 125 and 126 rushing yards, respectively. Also sophomore running back Taye McWilliams, the third rusher to hit the 100-yard mark, recorded 102 rushing yards.

Bohanon also found his footing with the ground attack, as he recorded five rushes for 27 yards with two touchdowns. The 6’3″, 221-pound quarterback said he loves being physical and running over defenders in games, as he believes he has every right to be aggressive like other positions.

“I love [running over defenders.] I love it. Makes me feel alive,” Bohanon said. “The big guys play physical for me, the wide receivers play physical, the running backs play physical, so why can’t I be physical too?”

The Bears’ opening possession got off to a rocky start, as a holding penalty called back Ebner’s 51-yard rushing touchdown. After a fourth down conversion near midfield, the offense got momentum. Smith finished off the 12-play, 93-yard drive with a 20-yard touchdown on a fourth and three. Smith finished the game with two touchdowns, putting him at four total in the season.

Abram Smith rushes for a touchdown against Texas Southern. Photo by Audrey La | Photographer
Abram Smith rushes for a touchdown against Texas Southern. Photo by Audrey La | Photographer

Baylor’s defense set the tone early, forcing a three-and-out after back-to-back sacks from senior safety Jalen Pitre and sophomore linebacker Matt Jones.

Baylor would then start their high-scoring rampage. On the first play from scrimmage TSU’s punt, Bohanon launched a 48-yard pass up the middle to senior wide receiver Tyquan Thornton. In just eight seconds, the Bears increased their lead to 14-0 just over halfway through the first quarter and didn’t stop there.

Tyquan Thornton celebrates after scoring his first touchdown of the season. Photo by Audrey La
Tyquan Thornton celebrates after scoring his first touchdown of the season. Photo by Audrey La | Photographer

 

The Bears would get another big stop on the defensive end, forcing another punt from TSU. Ebner would then rush for 58 yards off an option pitch from Bohanon, setting them up in the red zone. Bohanon would cap off the drive with a seven-yard rushing touchdown giving him his second in the season and the Bears’ third straight touchdown in the game to make it a 21-0 lead going into the second quarter.

The second quarter would feature more of the same from the offense and the defense. Bohanon continued to keep the offense humming by scoring a 10-yard rushing touchdown to increase the lead 28-0.

On Baylor’s last drive before the half, junior tight end Ben Sims and senior wide receiver R.J. Sneed both pulled in one-handed grabs for five and 26 yards, respectively. Later in the quarter, Bohanon would then hit a wide-open Thornton in stride over the middle for an 18-yard touchdown for his second receiving touchdown of the game and the season, giving Baylor a 42-0 lead heading into halftime.

Baylor’s offense produced 458 yards and six touchdowns by halftime while the defense held TSU to 52 yards.

Early in the third quarter, the offense would keep the chains moving. Senior wide receiver Josh Fleeks caught a 41-yard pass from Bohanon, putting them in the red zone once again. Bohanon then threw a short pass in the flats to Ebner who broke loose and hurdled a defender to the tune of a 12-yard touchdown and his first touchdown of the season. Baylor would cruise through the third quarter, heading into the fourth up 52-0.

The Bears’ defense would make history three minutes into the fourth quarter. In a fourth down on the goal line, Pitre forced a fumble which senior safety JT Woods scooped up and took 97 yards to the end zone. Woods’ return was the longest fumble return in school history. Woods now has his second consecutive game with a defensive touchdown, as he had a pick-six against Texas State University. For Woods, being in the record books is an honor, but he’s more hopeful that it gets broken.

“Honestly it feels really good to go down in the history books at such a great school, such a great program,” Woods said. “Hopefully though it gets broken. That means that somebody else is doing even bigger things later on.”

TSU would start to move the lines consistently halfway through the fourth quarter. TSU’s junior running back Kevin Harris punched in a one-yard rushing touchdown, cutting the lead to 59-7 giving them their only score of the night. Baylor’s defense held TSU to 281 total yards of offense.

Baylor would score once more, as McWilliams scored a 14-yard rushing touchdown, the first of his career, to make it 66-7 as the final score.

Next up for Baylor is a matchup against Kansas University (1-1) at 2:30 p.m. Saturday on the road.