After knocking Baylor’s quarterback out of the game, Texas jumped to a 20-0 lead in Waco, then held on in the second half to topple the No. 12 Bears 23-17.
Baylor third-string QB Chris Johnson took a hard hit, fumbled with two minutes left in the first quarter and was removed from the game for good because of concussion-like symptoms. With the Bears’ only other two quarterbacks, Seth Russell and Jarrett Stidham, already out with injuries, Baylor was forced to insert receiver Lynx Hawthorne, who most recently played quarterback his junior year of high school, behind center.
Even without a real quarterback, the nation’s top-scoring team made the game interesting in the second half by using an offense of direct snaps to running backs Johnny Jefferson, Terence Williams and Devin Chafin.
But Baylor’s last-gasp Hail Mary attempt was incomplete at the goal line, which sealed the win for the Longhorns.
Top play: Trailing by six with just 2:31 remaining, Baylor went for a fourth-and-4 at its own 31-yard line. The Bears gave the ball to Jefferson, who broke through the line of scrimmage to seemingly nab the first down. But Texas defensive tackle Poona Ford reached from behind to pop the ball loose, then recovered the fumble himself. The Bears forced Texas to punt, but they had to expend their timeouts and got the ball back at their own 4 with just 1:24 to play.
Unsung heroes: The Baylor offensive line. With a wide receiver playing quarterback and nothing working offensively in the first half, the Bears came out in the third quarter direct-snapping to their running backs play after play. The ploy discombobulated the Longhorns and got the Bears moving, as Baylor’s talented offensive line mauled Texas up front. The Bears ran out of time, but they were only in the game because of their blockers up front.
What the win means for Texas: It was an ugly second half for the Longhorns, but they finished their season on a high note with a road victory over a school that was in the playoff hunt just weeks ago. Sure, Baylor didn’t have a quarterback for much of the game, but the Longhorns jumped on Baylor early while Johnson was still on the field, then made enough plays to hold on. This was not a great season for Charlie Strong. But wins over Oklahoma and Baylor will give him something to build around heading into his crucial third year in Austin.
What the loss means for Baylor: What a disappointing final month it was for the Bears, who had playoff and Big 12 title hopes heading into November. The quarterback injuries just proved too much to overcome. The Bears would’ve gone to the Allstate Sugar Bowl had they defeated Texas. Now, after finishing fourth in the Big 12 standings, they’re probably looking at the Russell Athletic Bowl.