Shapen delivers, No. 10 Baylor football rolls past UAlbany 69-10
By Michael Haag | Sports Editor
No. 10 Baylor football dominated the University of Albany to the tune of a 69-10 win Saturday evening at McLane Stadium in its season opener. The Bears jumped on top early and never looked back, as they posted 21 unanswered points in the first 10 minutes of action.
This was Baylor’s most points in a season opener since beating Wofford College, 69-3, on Aug. 31, 2013.
Baylor (1-0) found most of its early success over the Great Danes (0-1) through the air, thanks to an impressive showing from sophomore quarterback Blake Shapen. The second-year slinger only played a little over a half of the game, and still recorded 214 yards on 17-20 efficiency to go along with three touchdowns, one on the ground.
“I felt good all night,” Shapen said. “[It was] a huge testament to the receivers and then all the guys around me, the O-line, everyone that made that possible. Being able to start fast like we did and limit all the little mistakes like penalties and things like that early on helped us.”
Sophomore wideout Monaray Baldwin posted career numbers, as he hauled in four catches for 84 yards. Baldwin chipped in 46 yards with his legs as well, bringing his offensive total to 130.
While the passing attack thrived in the first half, the running game took over in the second. Baylor only had 43 rushing yards in the first two quarters, contrary to 216 in half No. 2.
“For us to come out throwing the ball was something that we’ve worked on a lot in fall camp,” head coach Dave Aranda said. “Then, for us to get the running game going in the second half was really good to see.”
The Bears built a 21-0 lead in the first quarter before UAlbany chipped in a touchdown of their own at the end of the period. Baylor’s second score of the game came from an electric 72-yard punt return from sixth-year senior wide receiver Gavin Holmes.
Holmes has battled through multiple severe injuries and setbacks throughout his collegiate career, but finally made his way back to the field.
In the first quarter, sixth-year senior Bryson Jackson forced the Bears’ only converted turnover on the outing. Jackson came up with a fumble recovery, crediting the team’s “robbers and jackers” mantra from fall camp.
“It’s pretty cool because in camp we started jackers and robbers, something coach Caleb Collins had started,” Jackson said. “It’s for our defense, man, just forcing turnovers, interceptions, hits, strips, fumbles, just rewarding guys throughout the week for doing that.”
The Bears put up another 21 unanswered before the Great Danes nailed a field goal, making it 42-10 late in the third quarter. Four more rushing touchdowns gave the Bears the 69-10 advantage early in the fourth quarter, which stayed true the rest of the way.
Shapen said the offense is still in its early stages and has lots more to showcase as the season progresses.
“Tonight was just a glimpse of what you’ll see in the future,” Shapen said. “It was good for some of our guys and especially me to get out there and be able to touch the ground again and be able to play again. Taking shots down the field and things like that you will definitely see in the future.”
Jackson mimicked Shapen’s words, saying the quarterback play will only trend upward from here on out.
“We got to see a lot of incredible passes,” Jackson said. “That’s just the surface level of what he can do, and we’re gonna see a lot coming up these next few weeks.”
Baylor now travels to Provo, Utah for a non-conference contest against No. 25 Brigham Young University, with the game set to begin at 9:15 p.m. CT at LaVell Edwards Stadium. The Bears lead the series 2-1 over the Cougars (1-0), with last year’s 38-24 win in Waco the most recent match.
Aranda said the tough road game against future Big 12 foe BYU will be a great test for the team. He said they will have to generate their own energy being away from McLane Stadium.
“There’s not going to be a lot of positive energy for us to catch on some of these road games,” Aranda said. “We’re going to have to create it. So, in practicing without music and all these other things and just us creating it, I think is training for the places that we have to go.”