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Baylor Drops Action-Packed Game to West Virginia

Sports

Baylor Bears Wide Receiver Gavin Holmes (6) runs with the ball during the first half of the college football game between the Baylor Bears and the West Virginia Mountaineers on October 13, 2022, at Mountaineer Field at Milan Puskar Stadium in Morgantown, WV. | Image by Gregory Fisher, Icon Sportswire, Getty Images

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A 22-yard field goal with 33 seconds left by West Virginia’s Casey Legg lifted the Mountaineers to a 43-40 victory over the Baylor Bears Thursday night in Morgantown. Baylor is now 0-6 all-time playing the Mountaineers in Morgantown.

The game was an action-packed thriller, with the two teams combining for 1,090 yards of offense.

West Virginia (3-3, 1-2 Big 12) racked up 217 rushing yards, led by Tony Mathis Jr., who ran for a career-high 163 yards on 22 carries. Baylor entered the game with one of the nation’s top defenses against the run, allowing under 100 yards a game. 

Mathis scored on a 34-yard run with 7:05 remaining and set up the game-winning field goal with a 37-yard run to the Baylor 8-yard line. 

Baylor (3-3, 1-2) quarterback Blake Shapen left the game with 6:30 remaining in the third quarter due to an apparent head injury. Shapen was on pace for a career day, leaving the game when he was 14-of-22 for 326 yards and two touchdowns.

Redshirt freshman Kyron Drones backed up Shapen and played well, leading a pair of scoring drives that gave the Bears a 37-31 fourth-quarter lead. But in a critical moment, the extra point was blocked by West Virginia’s Dante Stills, and the Mountaineers returned it for two points, making it 37-33 Baylor. 

After Mathis’ 34-yard scoring run made it 40-37 in favor of the Mountaineers, Drones led the Bears into scoring position. But Baylor lost its third turnover of the night on a Drones interception

However, Baylor linebacker Dillon Doyle got it right back with an interception of his own at the West Virginia 25. The Bears turned the excellent field position into a John Mayers 44-yard field goal to tie it at 40-40 with under two minutes remaining. 

But the Mountaineers quickly drove 61 yards down the field, powered by Mathis’s 37-yard run, to set up the game-winning field goal and nab their first conference win against the defending Big 12 champion Bears. 

Baylor was dominant in the first half and should have had a lead wider than the 24-17 advantage they took into halftime. 

Shapen threw for 294 yards and led the Bears to 358 yards of total offense in the first half alone. 

Gavin Holmes had already produced the first 100-yard receiving day of his career in the first half, catching four passes for 157 yards for the Bears. 

Holmes finished with a career-high 210 yards on seven catches, becoming Baylor’s first 200-yard receiver since 2016.

But West Virginia linebacker Jasir Cox’s 65-yard fumble return in the second quarter was a momentum shifter. 

The Bears were leading 17-10 and in position to make it a two-possession game when defensive end Sean Martin knocked the ball out of Shapen’s hand, and Cox scooped it up and took it in for the score to draw the Mountaineers even at 17-17 with 2:41 left before halftime.

The Bears answered in just five plays, aided by a personal-foul penalty on WVU, with Shapen connecting with Craig “Sqwirl” Williams for a short screen pass he turned into a 39-yard touchdown and the 24-17 halftime lead.

The Baylor offense finished with 590 yards, including a combined 421 yards passing by Shapen and Drones. Drones finished 7-of-14 passing for 95 yards and one touchdown with one interception.

Freshman Richard Reese led the ground attack with 57 yards on 13 carries, while Qualan Jones added 44 yards and one touchdown on ten carries.

Baylor now finds itself in the middle of the pack of the challenging Big 12, with more than half the conference schedule remaining. The Bears will look to stop their losing streak at two when they return home to host No.19 Kansas (5-1, 2-1) next Saturday.      

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