Constant defensive pressure, turnovers, penalties, red zone inefficiencies and lack of offensive support in crucial situations plagued Baylor (1-9, 1-6) all afternoon as they fell to Texas Tech (5-5, 2-5) 38-24 inside AT&T Stadium in the eighth edition of the Texas Farm Bureau Insurance Shootout.
“You know, as I told our team at the end of the day, you can’t beat yourself the way we did today in terms of penalties and red zone offense and then have a chance to win,” said Baylor head coach Matt Rhule following the game.
Missed opportunities and youthful mistakes led to four Baylor turnovers with two fumbles coming off mishandles off of read option plays that were symbolic of Baylor’s offensive woes despite accumulating a total of 523 offensive yards.
Baylor was 1-for-4 on red zone trips in the first half and those empty-handed red zone trips reared their ugly heads in the latter portions of the game as Baylor could never make up those points lost deep in Tech’s territory.
“By us beating ourselves, we gave them a chance to leave here victorious,” continued Rhule. “For all the great things our young players are doing, today was a day where a couple of our young guys made some errors that we just have to continue to coach through.”
Baylor’s first fumble on the read option came in the first quarter when Baylor was at the Texas Tech 9 and facing a 14-7 deficit. Brewer looked as if he wanted to keep the ball but lost it d linebacker Dakota Allen recovered the fumble to give the Red Raiders the ball.
With that fumble recovery, Texas Tech grinded away at Baylor with a 16 play, 89 yard drive that lasted 6 minutes and 27 seconds to give Tech a distant 21-7 lead with 12:11 left before the half.
The game started off in shootout fashion with both teams compiling 21 points by the time there was 8:14 left to play in the first quarter with Texas Tech leading Baylor 14-7 and the first score of the game coming in the first 14 seconds of the game.
On the opening kickoff, Texas Tech’s Keke Coutee took the ball up the middle of the field where the kickoff return blocking only left Baylor’s last line of defense up to kciker Connor Martin. With the favorable one-on-one battle, Coutee broke left to easily avoid the tackle and put Tech on the board early with a 92-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.
Texas Tech’s Tre King finished with 67 rushing yards and a touchdown which gave Tech the early 14-7 advantage.
Quarterback Nic Shimonek, who started the afternoon 10-for-10 on pass attempts, threw his first touchdown pass from 5-yards out to T.J. Vasher with Vasher dragging his feet inbounds on the reception to have Tech sitting in the driver’s seat with a 21-7 lead.
Baylor’s next offensive series following the fumble that allowed Texas Tech to go up 21-7 did not yield any better results even with Baylor getting favorable position after benefitting from two defensive penalties. After beginning the drive at their 21, Baylor found themselves with a first & goal at the 5 yard line after Tech was hit with an illegal hands to the face penalty that gave Baylor a chance to keep the game manageable and from completely unraveling early.
Baylor moved inside the 1 and faced a 3rd & goal to try and keep this at a one possession game. The Tech defense held firm and stuffed back-to-back run attempts to get the turnover on downs and once again leave Baylor empty handed and keep the score in their favor with a 21-7 lead heading into halftime.
Charlie Brewer finished with 417 yards on 43-of-63 passing with three touchdowns but was given fits by the Tech defense that constantly overwhelmed the offensive line and brought pressure that kept Brewer under duress a majority of the game. Brewer also threw an interception in the winding seconds of the first half to give Tech some more momentum going into the half.
Already down to a limited number of offensive weapons around him, Brewer was given no favors when freshman receiver Gavin Holmes was taken out in the early stages of the game with a knee injury who had given Baylor their first score of the game at the 10:28 mark in the first quarter.
Receiver Pooh Stricklin, who was originally intended to be serving in a reserved role following a foot injury that was supposed to have him out the rest of the year, gutted it out and put on an impressive performance in amassing 8 receptions for 99 yards and a touchdown reception.
Stricklin’s touchdown came after Tech’s Clayton Hartfield hit a 39-yard field goal that gave the Red Raiders a 24-14 lead. Stricklin’s 6-yard touchdown reception narrowed the score to 24-14 with 1:08 left in the third quarter but that would be the closest Baylor would get rest of the game.
Baylor scored once more before the final whistle on a 3-yard touchdown pass from Brewer to Denzel Mims that allowed Mims to finish with 152 yards on 12 receptions and put the score at the final 38-24 result.
“You can be pleased with the progress, pleased with the individuals, and furious at the results…a day like today, we just take it like that. We keep moving forward but we definitely are getting better,” said Rhule.
Baylor finishes their 2017 season against two ranked opponents. Baylor will play Iowa State next Saturday at McLane Stadium and will finish on the road against TCU the following Friday.
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