By Marquis Cooley | Sports Editor
In a game filled with penalty flags and big plays, No. 12 Baylor fell to Texas Christian University 30-28 in a matchup that came down to the wire. Baylor’s defense had no answer for redshirt freshman quarterback Chandler Morris who filled in for the injured Max Duggan. In his first career start, Morris completed 29 of 41 passes for 461 yards and two touchdowns to go along with 70 yards on the ground and a rushing touchdown. He was able to extend plays with his legs and connect on deep shots down the field throughout the game.
Baylor (7-2, 4-2 Big 12) started off fast. After forcing a punt from TCU, the offense found the end zone in just three plays thanks in part to a 48-yard run from senior running back Abram Smith, which led to junior quarterback Gerry Bohanon finding senior wide receiver Tyquan Thornton for a 7-yard score to give the Bears a 7-0 lead early in the first quarter.
On TCU’s (4-5, 2-4 Big 12) next drive, Baylor’s defense was able to force a turnover as senior safety Jalen Pitre came up with a fumble recovery, his third of the season. The offense was unable to capitalize and was forced to punt, leading to a scoring drive for the Horned Frogs. After finding TCU’s senior wide receiver Derius Davis downfield for a 63-yard gain, Morris decided to take it up the middle himself for a 12-yard touchdown run to tie things up at 7-7 midway through the first quarter.
Late in the quarter, TCU was able to push the ball down the field once again, as Morris connected with sophomore wideout Blair Conwright for 35 yards putting, the Horned Frogs in plus territory. After getting all the way to the 1-yard line, an unsportsmanlike penalty pushed TCU back a bit, helping the Bears hold them to a 30-yard field goal from junior kicker Griffin Kell to make the deficit only 10-7.
After a holding penalty called back what would’ve been a touchdown for TCU on their next drive, the Horned Frogs settled for another field goal, this time from 46 yards out to make it 13-7 in the second quarter.
Baylor was able to regain their offensive rhythm later in the second quarter, driving 75 yards in 11 plays for a score. Just a few plays after Bohanon connected with junior tight end Ben Sims on a fourth down to keep the drive alive, Bohanon found sophomore tight end Drake Dabney wide open on the right side of the field for a 21-yard touchdown — the second of his career and first of the season — to give the Bears the lead back at 14-13.
TCU marched down the field again toward the end of the first half to set themselves for a 24-yard field goal to retake the lead at 16-14 heading into halftime.
Morris gave Baylor’s defense problems in the first half going 15-21 for 246 yards and a rushing touchdown while Bohanon and the Bears’ offense struggled to move the ball, totaling just 156 yards to TCU’s 289 in the half.
Coming out of the break, Morris continued his hot streak in the third quarter leading the Horned Frogs on another scoring drive to make it 23-14. The Bears were able to answer back as big plays from Thornton and Smith sparked the offense, leading to a 1-yard touchdown run from senior running back Trestan Ebner to close the gap to 23-21.
After a one-handed 53-yard snag from sophomore wide receiver Quentin Johnston put the Horned Frogs in scoring territory, Baylor was able to tighten up their defense and block a 37-yard field goal attempt, igniting the Baylor sideline. Bohanon capitalized on the momentum shift, finding Thornton for a 49-yard gain on the first play of the drive. Bohanon went for the deep ball again on the next play but received vastly different results as the ball was tipped and picked off in the end zone.
TCU converted on the turnover as Morris was able to extend plays with his legs to lead the Horned Frogs on another touchdown drive. Miscommunication between Baylor’s defense led to Johnston being all alone in the right corner of the end zone for a 19-yard score to extend the lead to 30-21 early in the fourth quarter. Johnston finished the game with five catches for 142 yards and a touchdown reception.
Baylor responded, going down the field on a 13-play, 86-yard drive capped off by a 4-yard touchdown pass from Bohanon to Thornton to make it 30-28 after taking almost seven minutes off the clock.
Chunk plays by TCU had the Bears’ defense on their heels as Morris was consistently able to avoid pressure in the backfield. However, Baylor stiffened up once again in the redzone and forced a field goal from 34 yards out. Kell, who had been accurate all day outside of a blocked attempt, missed the field goal, hitting the left upright to give Baylor one last chance to come away with the win.
Bohanon led the offense out with two minutes to go and only one timeout, down two points. Bohanon hit Sims over the middle for a 32-yard pass play to the Frogs’ 48 yard line to open the drive. Ebner followed up by getting a first down to keep the chains moving. Just as things were beginning to look up for the Bears, redshirt freshman linebacker Shadrach Banks saved the day for the Horned Frogs, picking off Gerry Bohanon on a pass intended for Sims that sealed the upset victory.
Bohanon finished the game going 14-20 for 214 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions. Thornton had a huge day hauling in five passes for 121 yards and two scores while on the ground, Smith led the way with 125 yards on 18 carries.
The Bears will look to get back on track as they return home to face No. 4 University of Oklahoma (9-0, 6-0 Big 12) in a game that will be televised by FOX with either an 11 a.m. or 7 p.m. kickoff Saturday at McLane Stadium.