Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Baylor's Late Rally falls Short in loss to Texas

The Baylor Bears fell 23-17 against their longtime rival, the Texas Longhorns. It was a game defined by the running games for both teams, as the Bears and Horns struggled at the quarterback position.

For the second straight week, the Baylor passing attack was nullified due to cicrumstances.  Against TCU, it was the weather.  Against Texas, it was injury, as the Bears last scholarship quarterback was injured in the first half.  Chris Johnson, the Bears third string quarterback and converted wide receiver, was hit hard on a designed run, suffering a head injury and fumbling the ball.  Texas would score their last touchdown of the game after that, to go up 17-0 on Baylor.  With Johnson out for the rest of the game, Lynx Hawthorne was the new quarterback for the Bears.  The punt returner/inside receiver had not played quarterback since his junior year of high school.  

The Bears would attempt a few more passes in the 1st half, but many would fall incomplete, and two would be intercepted.  Hawthorne's first career pass was a deep shot to Corey Coleman, who was double-covered on the play,that was easily intercepted. On the ensuing return, Hawthorne threw down Duke Thomas, and then a scuffle broke out.  Texas players took exception to the take down, and threw Lynx to the ground. Baylor players ran across the field as Texas players swarmed Hawthorne as he was on the ground. No punches were thrown, and no penalties were assessed for the scuffle, though Texas was called for a late hit on Hawthorne.  

The Passing attack would finish with just 42 yards and two inteceptions in the first half.  Baylor would finish the first half scoreless, for the first time since 2011.  Quite simply, there was little hope for a Baylor comeback, even if the defense pitched a shutout.  Without a semblence of a pulse from the offense, there was little to no hope in overcoming a 20-point deficit with 30 minutes left to play.  

Baylor would find thier hope in the running game, spefically direct snaps to the running backs with Hawthorne split out at his natural wide receiver position.  Johnny Jefferson and Terence Williams would dominate the second half taking the snap and reading the defenses for big gains.  After the Longhorns went 3-and-out on their first possession of the 2nd half, the Bears would put together a 69 yard drive on the backs of their running game to score their first touchdown.  Another quick Texas possession gave the Bears the ball once again.  The result was a 82 yard drive, that took over 8-minutes, but ended in just three points.  

With all of the momentum, and the lead cut in half to 20-10, Texas was on the ropes.  A huge kickoff return past midfield setup Texas to once again take control of the game, but the Baylor defense would come up with a huge 4th down stop to setup their offense with great field position.  61 yards and a little less than 4 and a half minutes later, the Bears scored another touchdown off of a brilliant scramble by Hawthorne, who stayed in bounds and dove to the pylon to cut the deficit to three points.  

There were now under 10 minutes to go, with the Longhorns having the ball and a chance to finish the game.  Texas converted some massive thrid downs to keep their drive alive before settling for a 37-yard field goal with 4 minutes to go.  Baylor would have aa chance, needing 75-yards to score the go-ahead touchdown.  It would slip through their grasp though, as Johnny Jefferson converted a tough 4th and 4, but fumbled the ball to Texas.  The Longhorns would recover the ball and punt to the Bears with just 1:24 left in the game, and the Bears needing 96 yards.  

Baylor would get two huge runs by Hawthorne and star receiver Corey Coleman to get the ball just across midfield, but a hai mary attempt by 3rd string running back Johnny Jefferson would go out of bounds and end the game with the Longhorns getting their 5th win of the year, and the Bears falling to 9-3 on the 2015 season.  

The Baylor Bears offense has been defined by big plays in the passing game since Art Briles took over. Their ability to stretch the field vertically is as good as any team in the nation, especially with the speed and skill of their wide receivers.  To see that offense limited to an emergency quarterback was stunning.  However, the Bears ability to literally reinvent themselves at halftime and create a whole new offensive attack during the intermission is a testament to Art Briles and his coaching staff.  Teams shouldn't be able to make up a 20-point deficit with an emergency option at quarterback, especially one that could not complete a pass down the field.  Yet, the Bears had chances to win this game.  

Johnny Jefferson was tremendous in the second half, displaying tremendous patient and incredible burst in the second half.  However, his fumble to end their second to the last possession is a testament of his youth.  He will get better at ball security, or he won't play.  With Shock Linwood not available in the second half due to his lingering ankle injury and Devin Chafin banged up earlier in the first half, Jefferson was the main ball-carrier.  Terence Williams came on to spell Jefferson, and ran very strong for 42 yards on 11 carries.  The Bears rushing attack would acrue 395 yards, but it was just not enough to make up the large hole the Bears dug for themselves in the first half.  

With the loss, Baylor will finish 4th in the Big 12 and more than likely play in the Russell Athletic Bowl in Orlando, Florida.  


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