2016 Baylor game
Baylor 38, Rice 10
GOT 'IM --
Rice defensive end Graysen Schantz gestures emphatically after
teaming to down Baylor quarterback for a loss (PTH photo)
DID HE SCORE? --
Rice's Emanuel Esukpa strains for the Baylor goal line but is ruled
down inside the 1; he scored for sure on the next play (PTH
HOUSTON (Sept. 17) -- With the second-quarter clock winding down
below two minutes, the Rice Owls had battled Baylor to a virtual
standstill for a half, but nevertheless were facing a 21-10 deficit.
For the Owl
offense, mired deep in its own territory, there was time remaining
only to go for broke, perhaps a long bomb down the sideline or a
maybe a quick pick across the middle.
Instead, senior running back Darik Dillard took the inside
handoff, popped into the line, shifted his feet, and suddenly found
himself looking at daylight.
He burst into the clear with the distant goal line in sight, to the
forty, the fifty, the forty, the thirty. Go the distance, and the
result would be a sudden body blow to a Baylor team that came out
relatively flat and frustrated to begin with. A 21-17 game at
halftime, and the prize was there for the taking.
A big roar emerged from the west side stands, but it was followed by
a sudden audible groan. For as Darik crossed the 20, the typically
sure-handed veteran was blind-sided on the oblique by the Bears'
Tion Wright. The ball popped free, bounded for a couple of yards,
and was enveloped by BU's Patrick Levels.
Thus ended Rice’s competitive, promising first half of football, so
close to being anybody's game for the taking, but turning on a dime,
winding up so far away for a Rice team continuing the struggle to
find its identity.
Defense? Couldn't have been better, to start game
The way the Owl defense began the game was near-flawless, with three
three-and-outs plus J. T. Blasingame’s drive-ending interception
jammed down the throats of the Bruins during their first four
Destri White had a resurgent start with three solo tackles and a QB
hurry in the first quarter alone. Blaine Padgett, Tabari McGaskey
and Graysen Schantz were also big defensive contribuors during that
Blasingame, whose first-quarter
interception was the Owls’ first received turnover of the season,
lauded his fellow South Mainers’ overall defensive performance,
while playing down his own.
“This was our best game defensively,” he told press afterwards. “It
was a testament to the way we practiced this week. We practiced
really hard, and we’ve just got to keep that up.”
Unfortunately, contributions on the offensive side of the ball were
virtually nil during the Owls' first three possessions. It didn’t
help that the offensive game plan appeared to come out of a playbook
that had to have typed with carbon paper in a manual typewriter, so
antiquated it seemed.
Rushing attempts were stuffed at that Good Ol’ Baylor line on key
downs; while the quick-out pass to the slot back was good for about
a two- or three- yard loss every time it was called – except those
times when the ball was flung at the receiver’s feet.
Consequently, the speedy and talented Bear defense was content to
simply stuff nine men in the box, pin their ears back, and dare the
Owls to come right at them.
The Owls finally got something going their fourth possession of the
game, with Austin Walter, Jowan David and Darik Dillard breaking out
for runs of 15, 11 and 17 yards as Rice drove as far as the Baylor
six yard line where, facing third and four, a vanilla-flavored Wild
Owl keeper by Nate German yielded zero yardage, so the Flock had to
settle for a 24-yard Hayden Tobola field goal.
That put the Birds up 3-0, only the second lead Rice has held thus
far in this now semi-young season. But the lead lasted about as long
as the early score against Army last week, as the Bruins roared back
84 yards in eight plays, including a 45-yard downfield connection
from QB Seth Russell to K. D. Cannon, at the Rice 14.
Two plays later, JaMycal Hasty ran it in from 16 yards out, and the
Owls were on the short side of the scoreboard once again.
Frustration on part of the Rice receiving corps began to become
evident on the Owls’ next try, a weak three-and-out, no fun to
describe. Suffice it to say that execution was sorely lacking.
Rice coaches did put in a new wrinkle on fourth down, however,
putting Nate German in short punt and having him option to the
outside, taking the yardage if it was there, or kicking on the fly
if not. In the event, Nate’s Aussie-rules-style kick sliced out of
bounds for a mere plus of only five yards, and that gave BU a short
field at the Rice 32.
“In practice, Nate was booming those kind of kicks 70 yards down the
field,” Rice head coach David Bailiff told press postgame.
Baylor took all of seven plays, then, to take a 14-3 lead, the
last ten yards coming from a Russell-to-K. D. Cannon scoring pass.
This time, however, the Owls struck right back, smartly moving the
ball 75 yards in nine plays to pull back to within four. Quarterback
Tyler Stehling scrambled from midfield, on third and two, finding
running room in carrying for 28 yards to the lip of the red zone.
The Owls suddenly found running room up the gut, as Nate German ran
for nine, and then Emanuel Esukpa bulled for 11 more for a first and
goal at the one-foot line. Next play, he got the call again and
scored his first varsity touchdown, making it 14-10, Baylor.
Owls down by only 4, crowd was into it
By this time, the home crowd, including what appeared to be in
excess of 2,500 Rice students, got rocking and rolling in vocal
support of the surprising goings-on. Now, though, with four minutes
remaining in the first half, Rice’s ensuing kickoff pooched out of
bounds, so the Bears accordingly were able to set up at their 35.
Having appeared finally to have awoken from their winter’s nap,
the Bears came right back to score again, Terence Williams finding
daylight up the middle and scoring untouched from 24 yards out
It was then that Darik Dillard’s near-game-breaking heroics,
above-described, unfolded. When Baylor got the fumble at their own
15, only 52 seconds remained on the halftime clock. Yet, a 46-yard
completion from Russell to Cannon gave the Bears a shot at
last-second field goal try from 47 yards out. Chris Callahan’s
attempt missed, wide right, however.
The Owls got the ball to start the second half, but once again
showed zero imagination in breaking out a different look for the
Baylor defense. A holding penalty insured a short, three-play
possession for the Owls, and Rice’s failure to produce once out of
halftime locker room indeed took some air out of the tires.
In three third-quarter possession, the Owls managed two rack up only
two first downs, and the resulting failure to at least seize field
position allowed Baylor to score ten more unanswered points, first
going up 24-10 courtesy a 23-yard Chris Callahan chip shot, and then
garnering a commanding lead after QB Russell once again set the
table in finding his favorite eceiver, K D Cannon, for 51 yards to
the Rice 25.
Three plays later, Russell found his Jordan Feuerbacher for a
24-yard TD reception, making it 31-10, Bears, as the third quarter
Baylor quarterback Russell stayed in long enough to direct the
Bears on one more TD drive, this one carrying 58 yards on five plays
early in the fourth. Once again, it was K. D. Cannon who did the
damage, hauling in a sideline pass and scooting 28 yards to score on
a pylon-hurdling finale.
Nate German came in once again to run the Wild Owl package as the
fourth quarter began, and met with early success via a 15-yard gain
to midfield. The Owls were able to reach as far as the Baylor 36,
but at that point the previously-anemic aerial attack completely
fizzled, Nate German and Tyler Stehling both being unable to make
connection, with errant passes and/or failure to spot and connect
with secondary receivers.
To face facts: that was the story all night for the Rice passing
game, which put nine-for-27 and a total of 31 yards passing on the
night’s stat sheet. Read 'em and weep.
The Owl offense was able to rack up 250 yards on the ground,
although the Flock barely lost out to Baylor in total time of
possession, in a game in which the fast-moving BU attack managed to
run 96 plays in just under 31 minutes of possession time.
Despite QB Russell’s semi-off-day passing, the Wacoans did manage
306 total yards through the air on 23-of-42 chunks.
Rice had to punt 11 times in the game, but the Bears actually had to
run out their punter four times on their own. The generous yardage
totals racked up by Baylor had a lot to do with Rice’s failure to
control time of possession or establish field position.
After starting the fourth quarter perched on the BU 39 yard line,
the Owls never got any closer, failing to cross midfield for the
remainder of the game.
failed to cover point spread, heh, heh
About the only suspense at the end lay in whether Baylor was going
to be able to beat the 28-to-30 point betting spread. They didn’t,
although they likely could’ve, as reserve quarterback Wyatt
Schrepfer kept the ball and dived into the line for six straight
times after the Bears earned a first down at the Rice 18 in the
final moments, and failing on fourth and goal when Paine Matiscik
nailed the rookie backup at the Rice five.
Some Baylor fans apparently were more excercised about BU’s failure
to run up points than they were with the MOB’s rather tame digs at
the Baptists’ unprecedented sexual harrassment issues leading up to
the off-season resignations of both head coach Art Briles (who was
in attendance at the game) and Washington
special-prosecutor-turned-pillar-of-Academe, former BU president
Kenneth Starr (who wasn’t there).
"It's disappointing starting the season 0-3," afterwards said senior
Rice running back Darik Dillard, who led Owl offensive producers on
the night with 124 yards on 14 carries. "But if you really look at
it I see a lot of improvement, especially in our defense,” he added.
“Just the way they (the defense) started the first half by being
able to hold a huge Big 12 opponent to zero points in the first
quarter -- our defensive backs were doing an incredible job holding
some of the best receivers there are in the country. The defensive
line was doing an outstanding job being able to hold their running
game and their quarterback at bay."
Coach Bailiff likewise put on an upbeat face after the game. "I'm
standing up here and we're 0-3, but all our goals are still intact,”
he insisted. “That’s what I told the team," he added. "If we still
"If we still get that kind of effort and keep growing those young
ones up; we're going to be in great shape.”
“We're young, we're getting better every rep, and that's what we
have to do, and I'm depending on these seniors to keep growing those
looking for first win, this time at home against overwhelming
HOUSTON (Sept. 15) -- The Rice
Owls, still looking for their first victory in the young season
after two road losses, take on the Baylor Bears Friday night at Rice
Stadium (7:00 p.m.) in a game in which prognosticators are giving
the South Main contingent little chance to be competitive.
wisdom has it that the 2-0 Bears of the Big 12 Conference ought have
only to roll the ball out onto the turf, and then hang around for
sixty minutes of play -- one of college football's most prolific
scoring machines against a Rice team that, well, suffice it to say
that the nation's football scribes have accorded it less respect
than Rodney Dangerfield.
the Owls truly deserve such ignominy? Within two thorough road
defeats at the hands of Western Kentucky and a resurgent Army team,
Rice showed less-than-impressive statistics, nothing remarkeable in the way of outstanding individual
play, and a minium of resilience which would serve to refute that
Offensively (both rushing and passing), and defensively (you name it) the
record and stats thus far speak grimly about the Owls prospects when lining
up against any Top-100 Division One team.
Baylor has shown a few wrinkles which indicate they may in line for
a sub-par performance, one against which the Owls, even if they are
not able to pull out a win, might be able to find some positives
upon which to launch a creditable Part Two of the 2016 Season.
can take at least some solace in the results of last week's
Baylor-SMU game in Waco.
week earlier, the Bears opened the season with a 55-7 win against
Northwestern (LA) State, a game in which BU was favored by 50 points
and had the spread covered with a 55-0 lead early in the third
final in that one was 55-7, though, as interim (is it ‘interim’?)
head coach Jim Grobe took his foot off the gas for the rest of the
against the Mustangs – not a pre-season Top 75 team, by the way –
the Bruins proceeded to lay an egg, at least during the first half.
Ponies were able to convert two early field goal tries to take a 6-0
lead going into the second quarter. All the Baylorites were able to
do in the first half was to respond with two three-pointers of their
own to knot the score at the half.
two BU first-half field goals were from 35 and 38 yards out, both by
Chris Callahan, one after a 55-yard drive, and the other following
an SMU turnover deep in their own territory.
Baylor was able to make some kinda halftime adjustments, however –
enough to be able to roll past the Mustangs 34-7 in the last two
quarters so as to wind up with a 40-13 victory.
Grobe later said the big halftime adjustment lay in his offensive
line's being able to pick up on the incessant quarterback blitzes
that the Pony defense had shown BU in the first half.
Baylor defense was the unit that emerged from the game with
Bears were led by senior defensive back Orion Stewart, who had eight
tackles (5/3) and picked off two passes. One of those he took to the
house, returning the theft 33 yards for the score to break open the
game at 26-6, Baylor, midway in the third quarter.
defensive back Davion Hall, a former wideout, had BU’s third pick of
the night; it was one that he returned for 62 yards out of the
Baylor end zone, setting up the Baylor offensive for their second
touchdown of the third quarter and a 20-6 lead.
quarterback Seth Russell, uncharacteristically quiet in the first
half, turned it on in the third, spotting the Bears at 13-6 lead
with a 31-yard TD pass to redshirt frosh Blake Lynch; then
accounting for the 20-6 lead with a 19-yard touchdwon scamper of his
During that 34-point second-half run against SMU, the Bears scored
on a 79-yard drive that carried for ten plays; 69 yards in eight, 38
yards in five, and finally 45 yards covered in only three plays as
redshirt freshman running back JaMycal Hasty ending scoring with a
on a 4-yard dive late in the game.
Workhorse running back Shock Linwood is scheduled to return from
injury to see playing action against the Owls. He’s nearing a career
rushing record for the Bears. Might just set it, come Friday night.