Another slow start caused the Bears to sweat a little in the first quarter, trailing 3-0 after the first 15 minutes of action. However, the Bears would eventually dominate the game and behind a big night from KD Cannon and a strong defensive effort, the Bears would rally for a 38-10 victory to improve to 3-0. What were some of the key plays from the victory?
1. JaMycal Hasty Gets into the End Zone
With the Bears offense scuffling, a deep connection from Seth Russell to KD Cannon of 45 yards got the Bears in the redzone. After a JaMycal Hasty rush for -2 yards, the Bears had 2nd and 12 at the Rice 16 yard line. The Bears lined up quickly though, getting lined up in just 8 seconds. With 2 wide receivers each split out wide, the Bears brought in their heavy package. With a tight end to the left of the line, and one lined up as an H-Back in the backfield, the Bears saw just 6 players in the box for the Rice defense. The line all stunted to the right, with the H-Back (Jordan Feuerbacker) coming down on the defensive end. This picked up the blitz easily.
The entire left side of the line collapsed the Rice defensive front, with the tight end taking out the linebacker. Dom DeSouza simply dominated his man at the point of attack, and then hit the defensive tackle again for good measure. This gave freshman running back JaMycal Hasty a massive hole to run through. His speed took him past the safety, and then split the defensive backs for an easy touchdown that barely saw anyone touch him. Bears would take the lead, 7-3 and never look back.
2. Seth Russell Finds KD Cannon in the Corner
After a disastrous 5-yard punt by the Rice Owls, the Bears started their very next drive at the Rice 32-yard line. They would drive down to the 10-yard line, facing 2nd and goal. Baylor would show the exact same look from the previous touchdown play, but go in a completely different direction. Rice also recognized the look, this time placing 7-players in the box. That left the wide receivers against a single man. KD Cannon was lined up wide, almost touching the large "10" near the sideline. This was a simple read for Russell, but a difficult throw.
Russell would take the snap and quickly pivot to his right. There was no ball fake to the running back, no misdirection. This was a single man defense against one of the best receivers in the nation. With the defender playing 6-yards off on Cannon, he ran the traditional curl route as the defender was already on the goal line. Russell pumped the ball to him, getting the corner back to bite hard on the play. The end results was not a curl route, but a double move. As the defender charged and took 2 full steps, Cannon darted towards him. Off-balance and out of position, the defender nearly tripped trying to get to Cannon. Russell gently lofted a perfectly thrown ball to the corner of the end zone, where KD Cannon sprinted to, getting a foot down easily and scoring his first touchdown of the game. 14-3 Baylor.
3. Tion Wright Chases Down Darik Dillard and Forces Fumble
With the score now 21-10, the Rice Owls had a chance to make a huge play near the end of the opening half. On the second play of their drive, Darik Dillard gave them that play, At their own 26-yard line, the Owls had 4-wide receivers split out wide and in a single back shotgun look. Dillard took the ball and exploded up field as the Rice offensive line created a massive hole. Dillard was in the secondary and made Chance Waz miss a tackle at the 34-yard line. Davion Hall also missed a diving tackle at the 43-yard line, with Dillard now past the whole Baylor defense. Tion Wright was covering the receiver on the far side of the field, a good 20-yards from the handoff. Wright doesn't even get into the TV picture until the 40-yard line, where he is pretty much even with Dillard.
With pure hustle, Wright caught the Rice runner at the 23-yard line, tackling him from behind, and getting his left arm around Dillard and using his right arm to punch at the ball. He would force the ball free just before Dillard would be down by contact, with the ball bouncing just inside the 19-yard line. Pat Levels hurdled over Wright and fell perfectly on the ball at the 15-yard line. Wright's pure hustle and excellent speed not only got the Bears the ball, but likely saved at least a field goal attempt late in the first half.
4. Blanchard Sacks Stehling
On the Owls 2nd possession of the second half, the Owls got the ball at the 20-yard line after Baylor kicker Chris Callahan missed his second consecutive field goal. Still a 21-10 game, the Owls needed a drive to rest their defense and get the momentum back. After picking up two first downs, the Owls were nearing midfield. A false started, incomplete pass, and a quarterback scramble would give them 3rd and 12. As the Bears did constantly in this game, they showed a zero blitz, putting three defensive backs in isolation against the Rice receivers. With 8-players in the box and non farther than 3-yards away from the line of scrimmage, Baylor would send an all-out blitz at Rice. Travon Blanchard was the wide man on the far side of the field, right on the line of scrimmage. Baylor would send all 8-players on a blitz, simply too many for the Rice Owls to block. Blanchard came completely free, squaring up the quarterback and hitting him for a 6-yard loss It was an amazing quick jump for Blanchard that allowed him to easily beat the running back coming from across the formation to get the sack and force Rice to punt the ball once again.
5. Cannon Hurdles Defender into the Endzone
The play that capped the scoring and ended most of the first team offenses night, putting Baylor up 38-10. A completely blown coverage that saw Cannon run the defender off of the line. In a 4-receiver set with 2 on each side of the formation, Cannon was out wide, mere feet from the sidelines. The Rice corner started the play off 6-yards off of Cannon, but started to back pedal even before the snap. Cannon would charge hard off the line, but stop at the 24-yard line where he would await the pass from Seth Russell. The corner (#14) would leave Cannon and take Chris Platt who had a double move up the seam.
This left Cannon WIDE open, with no defenders within 15 yards of him. Cannon would turn and spring up field, seeing his first defender at the goal line. Near the 3-yard line, Cannon would jump and hurdle the defender, soaring into the end zone and giving him over 200 yards receiving a two touchdowns in his best game of the young season. It is Cannon's third 200+ yard receiving game, the most in Baylor history.