By Gio Gennero | Sports Writer
Baylor racked up over 500 yards total offense for the second straight game, including 303 on the ground to take down No. 19 Brigham Young University 38-24 Saturday at McLane Stadium. This win for the Bears (6-1, 3-1) has made them bowl eligible for the 10th time in 12 years.
Senior running back Abram Smith rushed for 188 yards on 27 carries and found the end zone three times to help Baylor take down the Cougars (5-2) in their second victory over a ranked team in the last four weeks.
“It means the most,” Smith said. “Coming off a not really great season. [We] put in all that work and then finally seeing it pay off, as a team we’re excited for what we can do. Still a lot more ball out there to play. Despite being bowl eligible now, we still feel like the sky’s the limit.”
The run defense was outstanding as Baylor held BYU to minus 1 rushing yards in the first half. The Cougars were held to just 67 rushing yards for the day, with 56 of those coming on a fourth-and-1 keeper for a touchdown by BYU sophomore quarterback Jaren Hall in the third quarter.
Junior linebacker Dillon Doyle had a big night playing some iron man football. Just on defense, Doyle finished with four tackles as well as a momentum-shifting sack. Doyle also finished with two touchdowns, rushing for one and catching a short pass for the other, becoming just the sixth player since 2004 to record two touchdowns and a sack in the same game. He was quick to credit his success to his teammates.
“You talk about a sack,” Doyle said. “You talk about a run for a touchdown and you talk about the pass. That doesn’t happen without the other 11 guys. I don’t know how long the play was on my sack, but that was a coverage sack, that wasn’t all me. On the run, that was the offensive line and then the pass, Gerry [Bohanon] put it right where it needed to be … so it’s all complimentary football. We try to touch on that every team meeting and it’s all about the team.”
Both teams started the game with three and outs. On their second drive, Baylor drove all the way down to BYU’s 6-yard line. However, instead of kicking a field goal, the Bears went for it on the fourth down where Bohanon threw his first interception of the season.
Baylor’s defense immediately responded with senior safety Jalen Pitre being everywhere as two big tackle for losses led to a BYU punt on a fourth-and-21. Baylor’s offense once again drove down the field as multiple completions to senior wide receiver R.J. Sneed helped the Bears take a 3-0 lead.
A 52-yard completion helped BYU go 75 yards in eight plays to take a 7-3 lead early in the second quarter. On the following Baylor possession, a 31-yard rush from senior running back Abram Smith found the Bears in the red zone for the third consecutive drive. Smith then carried a sea of players into the end zone for Baylor’s first touchdown of the game, giving them the lead 10-7.
“He likes physicality,” head coach Dave Aranda said. “Abram is one where I think if he had his choice, he would run into stuff, and I think he’s probably been doing that for a long time.”
After a missed field goal attempt from the Cougars, the Bears capitalized on a chance to widen the gap. Doyle bulled his way into the end zone from two yards out to make it 17-7. On the kickoff, a gutsy call for a surprise onside kick paid off as Baylor recovered it. The Bears once again passed up a field goal inside the 30 and couldn’t convert on the fourth down, keeping the 10-point lead going into halftime.
“We’re going to be aggressive,” Aranda said. “There’s more points with touchdowns than there are going to be with field goals.”
At the half, Baylor dominated on the stat sheet. The Bears led in passing yards (173-135) and had a huge advantage in rushing yards with 132 to BYU’s minus one. Aranda’s team more than doubled BYU’s total offensive yards 305-134 and ran double the plays (44-22) while also dominating the time of possession (19:21-10:39).
Hall’s touchdown for the Cougars closed the lead to 17-14 to open the second half. Baylor responded with a 78-yard drive, including 56 yards from Smith, leading to Bohanon’s touchdown pass to Doyle to increase the lead to 24-14.
The Bears’ defense came up big on BYU’s next drive. Junior defensive lineman TJ Franklin clawed the ball loose on a sack and Pitre recovered it to regain momentum in a huge way. A 45-yard completion from Bohanon to senior wide receiver Tyquan Thornton set up Smith for his second rushing touchdown of the game which gave the Bears a 31-14 advantage.
It was senior running back Trestan Ebner’s time to shine on Baylor’s first drive of the final quarter. Ebner’s 37-yard run highlighted an 82-yard 12-play drive to chew the clock and build on their lead. Smith punched in the 1-yard touchdown for his third of the day to make it 38-17 giving the Bears their largest lead.
BYU went into their hurry-up offense to score a quick touchdown to cut the lead to 38-24 on the next possession. Baylor successfully recovered the onside kick and ran out the clock to close out the game.
Aranda said he’d like for this to be a “standard game,” for his squad. He doesn’t want the team to be too happy after a win or too sad after a loss. He wants them to remain focused and level-headed as the season continues.
The Bears will have a bye week before the University of Texas (4-3, 2-2) comes to Waco on Oct. 30.