FORT WORTH, Texas - Weird, wild and wacky doesn’t come close to describing what transpired at Amon G. Carter Stadium Saturday.
For eighth-ranked Baylor, it was wonderful. For TCU, the outcome brought an unsatisfying end to a season of woe.
The Bears (10-1, 71) stayed in contention for the Big 12 Conference championship with a brass knuckled 41-38 victory over TCU. Baylor closes its season against Texas next Saturday in Waco; earlier in the day, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State will battle in Bedlam with the Cowboys needing a victory to assure a trip to the Fiesta Bowl.
“This keeps us in the race and we can only control what we can control,” Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty said.
The Bears also remain in strong contention for a BCS at-large bid. Wisconsin, one of their main competitors, lost at home to Penn State – one of several shocking results in a chaotic day of outcomes.
“This one of our biggest wins,” said Baylor coach Art Briles, whose older brother died after a fall at home earlier in the week. “TCU had two weeks to prepare, we’ve basically played three road games the last three weeks. But we showed we’re a tough team with tough players.”
Tough physically, tough mentally. The Bears won a bizarre game in unusual fashion.
- Baylor ran 40 plays for 201 yards in the first quarter. “It felt like the old Baylor again,” Petty said. Except that “new” Baylor returned for the next three quarters. With TCU’s run defense in lock-down mode, the Bears gained 169 yards on 50 plays the rest of the game.
- Baylor got 21 points courtesy of its defense. Orion Stewart (82 yards) and Eddie Lackey (54) each had pick sixes while a butt fumble for TCU’s B.J. Catalon (the ball popped free when he collided with the back side of offensive tackle James Dunbar) set up a Petty 1-yard run.
- The Bears missed a 32-yard field goal with 4:25 remaining and had two chances to run out the clock with a three-point lead but each time failed to gain a first down. TCU’s final drive reached the Baylor 22 with 18 seconds remaining.
That, however, is where the biggest play of many occurred. TCU had no timeouts and was in prime position for a field goal but decided to go for the win. Casey Pachall’s pass for Brandon Carter near the goal line was deflected by Baylor’s Sam Holl and Terrell Burt tip drilled the interception.
“I let him get inside of me and I’m not supposed to let that happen,” Holl said. “I just sprinted back and dove and got that tip that T-Burt caught. I was a little surprised they didn’t kick the field goal but they were going for the win.”
The loss ended TCU’s second season in the Big 12 at 4-8 overall and 2-7 in league play.
“This sums it up,” TCU coach Gary Patterson said. “We wanted to take one shot to win it … you can blame me. Give credit to Baylor but bottom line is we should have beat them. Y0ou don’t hear me say things like that very often.
“That was our bowl game.”
Baylor’s offense, bolstered by the return of running backs Lache Seastrunk and Glasco Martin, dominated the first quarter as the Bears took an early 13-3 lead. The Frogs responded with Pachall turning in Daryle “The Mad Bomber” Lamonica. TCU posted back-to-back touchdowns to take a 17-13 lead. Momentum was wearing purple.
The Frogs had a first-and-10 at their own 32 late in the first half when a trick play blew up. Receiver Brandon Carter appeared to be ready to throw a pass on a reverse but was chased down for a 21-yard loss. On the next play, Catalon fumbled and Baylor recovered at the 1. Petty scored on the next play with 3:47 remaining in the first half.
Baylor’s 20-17 lead ballooned to 10 on the Bears’ first pick six. Three Pachall completions moved the Frogs to the Bears’ 27 when Baylor defensive coordinator Phil Bennett dialed up a litz.
Lackey came up the middle and Holl from Pachall’s left. Lackey was at Pachall’s feet when he tried to throw to the left flat. Freshman safety Orion Stewart broke on the ball and broke one tackle on his way to an 82-yard house call that provided a 27-17 halftime lead.
“That was a good time to get in his face and try to rush him a little,” Holl said.
Bennett has a saying: “When you blitz, somebody’s band is going to play. You don’t want to be yours.”
The fifth play of the second half was another pick six. Lackey noticed Pachall motioning he wanted to hit Trevone Boykin on a short slant. Another route jumped, another interception, another six points and a 34-17 lead.
Instead of a blowout, the momentum went back to the TCU sideline. The Frogs appeared headed to a three-and-out on a Pachall incompletion at midfield. But Baylor’s Ahmad Dixon was called and ejected for targeting. The drive lived and Pachall made it 34-24 with a 4-yard run.
“That changed the entire complexion of the game,” Briles said. “We had them three and out after we had gone up 17. When you’re on the road and the home team gets momentum, it’s tough to get it back. But our defense was just phenomenal.”
“The defense was unreal, they saved us,” said Seastrunk, who gained 94 yards on 24 carries.
Baylor’s defense, already without middle linebacker Bryce Hager, played the second half without Dixon. At times, the Bears had just one starter on the field.
“Ahmad has been on me all season to be a leader and to step up,” Stewart said. “Nobody’s a freshman anymore.”
Baylor’s two biggest offensive plays came on its only touchdown drive of the second half. With a precarious 34-31 lead late the third quarter, the Bears were sputtering and faced a third and nine at its own 31.
“We took a timeout there just to make sure of what we wanted,” Briles said.
Petty found Clay Fuller, who had made a spectacular diving catch for a touchdown in the first quarter, on a quick slant for 26 yards.
“The guy covering me, I don’t think he was ready when the ball was snapped,” Fuller said.
When he broke into the secondary, he shot his right arm into the air to flag Petty’s attention.
“That play takes some time to develop and my big guys kept clean,” said Petty, who was 19-of-38 for 206 yards and two touchdowns. “That was a huge play because that drive had a huge result.”
Petty find Levi Norwood who made a double-move to get free for a 33-yard TD pass and a 41-31 lead.
Dixon Tweeted before the game “Doing This One For The (hash tag) Briles Family!!!!!”
Baylor took the field a week after suffering its first loss and a few days after its head coach has suffered another family tragedy. For the Bears, it was an Art felt victory. Briles fired his head set to the ground after Burt’s interception and the Baylor locker room was over flowing with emotion.
“The emphasis this week was to win this for coach Briles,” Petty said.
“Coach Briles didn’t show a lot of emotion this week,” Seastrunk said. “He loves us and when he’s around us it helps take away the pain … but you can never take away the pain of losing a loved one. I told him before the game he lost a brother but he gained 99 of us.”