No.8 Baylor football gets 10th win; keep championship hope alive

By Marquis Cooley | Sports Editor, Video by Nate Smith | Broadcast Reporter

No. 8 Baylor football pulled out a gritty 27-24 win over Texas Tech in McLane Stadium Saturday afternoon on Senior Day to finish the season with a perfect 7-0 home record and keep their hopes of playing for a Big 12 Championship alive.

“That means everything, that’s something that we preached about all offseason was defending our home field,” Senior linebacker Terrel Bernard said. “The home field advantage has been awesome. The fans come out every single week and support us so it’s just been fun, man. I’m glad we were able to do it.”

Despite the Bears (10-2, 7-2 Big 12) controlling the ball for 12 more minutes and running 32 more plays than the Red Raiders (6-6, 3-6 Big 12), the game was tightly contested and came down to the final play, a missed field goal as time expired. While fans may have been nervous and on the edge of their seats, Bernard said these types of games are actually the fun ones.

“Obviously we didn’t want it to come down to that, but it’s a fun thing, it was a good experience,” Bernard said. “We kind of had to fight through some adversity there at the end. But I mean overall, it’s just fun, especially when you come out with the win and everybody’s going crazy and stuff.”

Redshirt freshman quarterback Blake Shapen got the start, filling in for junior quarterback Gerry Bohanon, who is nursing a hamstring injury he suffered during Baylor’s win over Kansas State. Shapen finished the game completing 20 of 34 passes for 254 yards and two touchdowns.

“There was times that Blake would throw a pass and immediately as he threw it, in my head and maybe my mouth were going ‘Oh no,’” head coach Dave Aranda said. “For Blake to come from the ‘Oh no’ to a real strong ‘Yes’ the very next play I think is a great statement about him.”

Both senior running backs made their presence felt in this one as Abram Smith carried the ball a career-high 30 times for 117 yards and two touchdowns while Trestan Ebner caught four passes for 118 and a score. Ebner’s performance made him the Bears’ all-time leader in career receptions for a running back with 124.

Baylor got things going early, on just the third play of the game Shapen threw a beautiful ball down the sideline to Ebner for a 61-yard score to put the Bears on the board first with a 7-0 lead.

The defense kept the momentum going, forcing a fumble on TTU’s first play to give the offense the ball back, leading to a 28-yard field goal from freshman kicker Isaiah Hankins to push the lead to 10-0. The Bears’ defense has forced a turnover in 20 consecutive games.

“That’s one of the biggest things that our defense preaches every week, just try to take the ball away and give it back to our offense. We try to cause as much havoc as possible, coach Roberts does a great job setting us and disguising, so they don’t know exactly what we’re in pre-snap, and I think that leads to at least a lot of turnovers.”

The Red Raiders followed with a field goal of their own on their next drive, with senior kicker Jonathan Garibay nailing one from 46-yards out to make it 10-3 midway through the first quarter.

Shortly after junior cornerback Al Walcott was ejected for targeting in the second quarter, senior cornerback Raleigh Texada got a strip sack on Texas Tech redshirt freshman quarterback Donovan Smith to help set up a 4-yard touchdown run from Abram Smith to make it 17-3.

The Red Raiders responded, driving 75 yards in nine plays, capping off the possession with a 1-yard rushing touchdown from sophomore running back Tahj Brooks to cut the deficit to 17-10 going into the half.

Ebner was the main weapon for the Bears in the first half picking up 120 of Baylor’s 200 yards, with the majority of his yards coming through the air.


The Bears showed some promise on their first drive out of the break, going on a drive that took 17-plays; however, Hankins missed the 40-yard field goal attempt, keeping the score at 17-10.

After a near interception of Shapen early in their next possession, the Bears were able to regroup, scoring on another long drive, this time 16 plays to wind up with a 27-yard field goal from Hankins to extend the lead to 20-10 a minute and a half into the fourth quarter.

The Red Raiders answered as Donovan Smith found a wide open target in senior wide receiver McLane Mannix who seemed to sneak behind the defense for a 38-yard touchdown to help trim the Bears’ lead to just 20-17.

Baylor struggled to move the ball early in the following possession, but a gamble from Aranda on 4th-and-3 in their own territory led to a big-time grab from senior wide receiver R.J. Sneed. The play kept the drive alive and ignited the Bears’ offense with Shapen finding junior tight end Ben Sims for a 9-yard touchdown reception to make it 27-17.

It wouldn’t take long for TTU to respond. Two plays later, senior tight end Travis Koontz took a screen pass 75-yards to make it a one possession game once again at 27-24 halfway through the fourth quarter.

Following the score, Baylor marched all the way down the field into Red Raider territory and decided to gamble once again on fourth down, this time in the red zone. However, it didn’t pay off as Shapen’s pass was batted away, giving TTU one more chance. Even though the Bears were in prime field possession for a field goal, Aranda chose not to go for an easy three points.

“I don’t think a field goal crossed anybody’s mind,” Ebner said. “We have faith in our defense. We have faith in our offense as well so if we didn’t get it, we knew our defense could go out there and make a stop.”

Texas Tech was able to move the ball down the field and set themselves for a 53-yard field goal to send it into overtime. Garibay, fresh off of a 62-yard game winning field goal against Iowa State last weekend, lined up for the kick and missed it wide left as time expired for his first miss of the season, giving Baylor the win.

“Everybody knows he [Garibay] can kick, he hasn’t missed one all season, but you just got to have faith. I had a little faith that he would miss,” Ebner said. “I think we do a good job of getting pressure on the kicker and forcing misses, so I’m just happy he missed.”

With the win, Baylor keeps their dreams of playing in the Big 12 Championship game alive but will need some help to make it a reality. In order for the Bears to clinch a spot in the Big 12 Championship game Dec. 4 in Arlington, they need No. 7 Oklahoma State University to beat No. 10 Oklahoma University Saturday night.

“I brought my orange hoodie with me,” Ebner said. “We’re rooting for them [OSU], we hope they pull it out and win it, our destiny is in their hands.”

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