ARLINGTON, Texas – The Baylor Bears are going bowling.
After a 1-11 season in 2017, many followers of the program figured it might take Baylor until at least 2019 to pull itself up to the six wins necessary for bowl eligibility.
But Bears quarterback Charlie Brewer outdueled Texas Tech and led Baylor to a 35-24 victory on Saturday at AT&T Stadium.
Baylor coach Matt Rhule said during the last off-season that his team would climb to bowl eligibility and he proved prophetic.
“I think it speaks to the character and who those guys are,” Rhule said. “No one really knows what it’s like when you win one game or two games. … When you win one game, you preach the message all day about patience and process and faith. But when you leave the building you’re questioning it. … You either break apart and fracture or you come together. So what I saw last year was a team that was coming together.
Brewer passed for 308 yards and 3 touchdowns, leading the Bears as they came roaring back from a 17-14 halftime deficit. The Bears scored on their first two drives of the second half to take a 28-17 lead and shifted the game’s momentum to their sideline. Brewer ran one yard for a touchdown to cap a 75-yard drive and gave Baylor a 21-17 lead. Then John Lovett ran three yards to cap a 67-yard march to boost the margin to 11-points.
Texas Tech failed to score in the third quarter. And, though the Red Raiders punched back a little in the fourth, it wasn’t enough to steal the good vibes from the Bears.
Brewer drilled a pass to Denzel Mims for a 16-yard touchdown for Baylor final score, putting the Bears up 35-24 with 12:41 left.
The Red Raiders couldn’t rally behind quarterback McLane Carter, who completed just 21 of 37 passes for 247 yards. Carter threw a pair of touchdown passes, but also gave up two interception in the fourth quarter.
Baylor successfully clamped down on the Red Raiders’ top offensive weapon, holding wide receiver Antoine Wesley to 4 catches for 35 yards.
Texas Tech marched 75 yards for a touchdown on its game-opening possession. Carter hit wide receiver Ja’Deion High for a 54-yard touchdown. But that was the Red Raiders longest play of the day by more than 20 yards.
Baylor didn’t have a huge number of big chunk play either. Brewer hit wide receiver Tyquan Thornton for a 41-yard touchdown early in the second quarter. But the Bears thrived on controlling the ball and won time of possession by more than 12 minutes.
Bears running back John Lovett was the workhorse, gaining 125 yards on 28 carries. Trestan Ebner pitched in 64 yards on 10 carries.
Chris Platt led 10 Baylor receivers who caught passes as he grabbed 6 receptions for 114 yards.