Two weeks ago, I wrote about the great impression Baylor’s new defense had made on me. I was worried I spoke too soon.
The game started with momentum as Baylor opened with a two-minute, 60-yard drive resulting in a 33-yard field goal from Aaron Jones. The field goal allowed Jones to surpass Alfred Anderson’s program-leading career total of 220 points scored and end the game with 230 total career points.
In addition to Jones, running back Jarred Salubi, receiver Tevin Reese, and receiver Terrance Williams all crossed their anticipated milestones during the night.
The rest of the first half felt like it was dominated by Sam Houston. The Bearkats had two touchdowns and two field goals, with Baylor only scoring two field goals, putting the Bears down 20-10 at the half.
Much of the problems in the first half could be put on the shoulders of the defense. Baylor defense allowed the Bearkats to reach the red zone four times in the first half. Baylor defense also allowed the Bearkats to score every time they reach the red zone.
When asked about the difficulties the defense had in the first half, nickelback Ahmad Dixon admitted his side of the team took a lot of responsibility during the halftime adjustment.
“We played down to their level,” said Dixon. “He (defensive coordinator Phil Bennett) let us know it was up on us.”
Whatever soul searching the Bears’ defense did during the game, it worked. And saved me from looking like an idiot after raving about the defense against SMU.
Forty-five seconds into the third quarter, Sam Houston quarterback Brian Bell fumbled on his own 17-yard line. The fumble was recovered by Baylor’s defensive tackle, Trevor Clemons-Valdez and brought back to the Bearkats 9-yard line, resulting in a touchdown pass to tight end Jordan Najvar and a reduction of the Sam Houston lead to only three points.
The defense continued to make a presence in the third quarter when defensive end Gary Mason, Jr. had a sack for a loss of two yards.
Baylor wrapped up the game with strength after a nerve-racking drive from Sam Houston that resulted in them having the ball on the Baylor 1-yard line, where the Bears were able to stop them.
After a 60-yard run by quarterback Nick Florence, resulting in a touchdown, an interception by cornerback KJ Morton resulting in a field goal, a last minute touchdown by running back Lache Seastrunk (his first of the season), and an interception returned for a touchdown by cornerback Darius Jones, Baylor ran away with the 23-48 win over the Bearkats.
“I think those guys are really getting confident,” said head coach Art Briles about his defense after the game.
Dixon amounted it to team dynamic. “The team chemistry and the team bond filled in at the right time,” said Dixon.
When reflecting on the night, Florence said it was all about doing what people don’t expect you to be able to do.
Briles gave Sam Houston credit for how well they played, calling them one of the best teams at that level, adding, “If you got more points than they got at the end of the game, regardless of who you’re playing, you better be happy.”
He’s right. At the end of the night, a win’s a win. Baylor is 2-0 and has added one more game to their winning streak before they head to Louisiana to face University of Louisiana at Monroe.