BU defense dominates in 24-3 win

Saturday night's home opener for the Bears may have been the coming out party for a defense that resembled those of the late 80's and early 90's. Baylor's defense dominated the game and produced six turnovers and five sacks in route to a 24-3 victory over the Arkansas State Indians. The home crowd witnessed the first defense in six years to hold an opponent without a touchdown as the Bears limited ASU to 172 total yards.

The Bruin defenders had all the right answers tonight in holding the Indians to a single first half field goal. Arkansas State coughed up four fumbles, had one pass intercepted and turned the ball over on downs late in the game. Twice they ventured inside the Bears' 10 yard line only to be turned away with no points.

After a precarious first half, the defense basically put the game away when a blitz forced a quick throw from ASU quarterback Elliot Jacobs. Safety Derrick Cash was in perfect position to break on the ball and take it the distance for a touchdown. The 73-yard jaunt by Cash brought the crowd of 28,953 to its feet as he raced down the sideline.

Remember, this Arkansas State team went to #24 Georgia last week and, in front of 80,000 fans, did not turn the ball over once or give up a single sack. The Indians also scored 17 points on the Bulldogs between the hedges. Tonight was a different story. Baylor held ASU to 66 net yards rushing and 106 yards passing. Josh Driscoll, who had 148 yards against UGA, was held to 48 by the Bears. Honors candidate RB Jonathan Adams was held to 28 yards on 11 carries.

Ethan Kelley led all defenders with seven tackles including two tackles for loss and a sack. Samir Al-Amin and Greg Wade (who played a great game) both had six tackles. Wade also recorded a TFL and a sack. Stephen Sepulveda and Derrick Cask had five apiece while Kevin Stevenson, Jack Wallace, Travis Hicks and A.C. Collier all had four each. Collier also had a nice game before suffering a hip pointer in the second half. Collier and John Garrett had two tackles for loss apiece while Collier also collected a sack. Cash had the only INT but Bobby Hart had two slip through his hands, one that would have been a sure TD as did Matt Johnson. In all 20 different Bears recorded a tackle in the game. And I would be remiss if I did not mention Robert Quiroga who tallied three, yes three tackles on punt coverage.

So, the defense was very impressive, especially when you consider how mightily the offense struggled in the first half. BU did got a first down until the second quarter. The bottom line is that the timing wasn't there and Cicero was not throwing well. Reggie Newhouse even said that in the post game radio show. But, Newhouse also said that Cicero hung in there and he did. The second quarter was more productive as the Bears scored 10 points and amassed 123 yards of total offense.

The defense repeatedly helped the offense out by forcing turnovers, but the offense could not capitalize. After driving 55 yards down to the ASU 10 yard line, BU missed a chip shot field goal. The defense got the ball right back on a Arkansas St fumble. The Bears cashed in this time with a 47 yard field goal from Adam Stiles. Another Indian fumble set Baylor up at the 16 yard line, but Cicero threw his only interception of the game inside the ASU 10. The Baylor defense made another big play and forced another fumble to give the ball right back to the offense. This time, BU pounded the ball up the middle as Jonathan Golden scored from eight yards out.

After forcing the Indians to go three and out, Baylor drove 49 yards to the ASU 30 before missing another field goal, this time from 47 yards out. Stiles kicked looked good off his foot, but banged against the right upright.

In the third quarter, the offense foudn itself with more of a cushion after Cash's interception return for a touchdown. With momentum behind them, Cicero looked much sharper in taking the offense 69 yards to the ASU 11 yard line. On 4th and 3 from the 11, Baylor went for it but were unsuccessful. Steele said that he made the call to go for it because the defense was playing so well. The defense did force another three and out by Arkansas State and Bobby Hart returned the punt back to the Indians' 20 yard line. Again, though, the offense stalled in the red zone and another field goal attempt missed wide right.

However, on the Bears' next possession Cicero found Newhouse on a slant route. Newhouse slipped a couple of tackles before outrunning the safety down the sideline for a 35 yard touchdown.

QB Josh Zachry saw some action on the last possession of the game as Baylor ran out the clock. Zachry complete his only attempt for a 24 yard gain and a first down. For the game, Cicero was 13 of 30 for 168 yards, one TD and one INT. Overall, the offense did not perform as well as expected and Steele said that in the post game show. He said there were things they need to polish and work on, but that the team did produce 366 yards of total offense including 197 passing.

Newhouse led all receivers with five catched for 102 yards and the touchdown. Andra Fuller nabbed three for 25 and John Marting caught two for 23. Damian Davis caught Zachry's only completion for 24 yards and Anthony Krieg, Jonathan Golden and Robert Quiroga all caught one pass apiece.

The big surprise was the effectiveness of the running game. Granted, Arkansas State isn't Texas or A&M, but the Bears still pounded out 187 yards (gross) on the ground including 93 by Melvin Barnett who played great. Golden ran well (27yards) and Krieg got in the fourth quarter and finished with 27 yards. Senior derek Lagway returned from injury to tally 25 yards, all on the last possession of the game. It was good to see Derek out there and running well. Barnett was the story, though, averaging 6.2 per carry and reminding many in the stands of Lagway a couple of years ago.

In summary, the offense must improve before the trip to Minnesota for the Bears to have a real shot at winning the game. Barnett mentioned in the post game show that they had some things to straighten out, but that he knew they could play much better on offense. Steele stressed that while the offense did struggle, they also showed glimpses of what the spread offense can do and that they did produce 366 yards of offense and left alot of points on the table.

The defense was tremendous and definitely gained a great deal of confidence from this game. ASU had a first and goal at the Baylor 3 yard line late in the game. On first down, Ethan Kelley made a great play up the middle for a three yard loss. On second and third down Driscoll threw incomplete under heavy pressure and could only throw the ball into double coverage on fourth down.

Baylor is now 1-0 and goes to Minnesota next Saturday at 7:00 p.m. Minnesota defeated Louisiana-Lafayette 44-14 to improve to 1-1.


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