What initially looked on pace to be a high-powered shootout following 28 total points in the first 5:34 of the game transformed into a compilation of defensive stands and critical blunders between the Texas Longhorns and Baylor Bears at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium on Saturday.
From the 9:24 mark of the first quarter, in which Baylor at Texas sat at a 14-14 deadlock, the ‘Horns would go on to outlast and outscore the Bears 21-to-20 to secure a 35-34 victory following a clutch Trent Domingue go-ahead field goal with 46 seconds to play.
Much of Texas’ success was due to the Foreman brothers.
D’Onta rushed for 250 yards and two scores on 32 carries to become the 23rd Longhorn to rush for 1,000 yards in a season and the first since Jamaal Charles in 2007, along with extending his 100-yard game streak to nine.
Armanti, on the other hand, hauled in a 40-yard pass from Shane Buechele to put Texas on the board earlier and concluded his night with a 38-yard reception that placed Texas within field goal range, which led to the Domingue game-winning kick.
The Longhorns defense was gashed more much of the night, primarily on the ground, as Texas sacrificed 398 yards on the ground overall, 138 of those to quarterback Seth Russell. But fortunately for head coach Charlie Strong, his defense stepped up down the stretch when it mattered.
On the first play of the fourth quarter, Texas nickel back P.J. Locke recovered a JaMychal Hasty fumble just as the Bears were sniffing the Longhorns goal line.
The following series, Baylor was held to a field goal following a 1st and goal from the 6-yard line, then the defense forced a punt following a sack to give the offense the ball back with a chance to regain the lead.
Once Texas went back on top, the defense again stood tough with a Malik Jefferson sack that was nearly a scoop-and-score by the sophomore linebacker. The officials ruled that Russell’s forward progress was stopped, negating the fumble and score.
While the beating Texas’ defense took in the running game is certainly an area of concern going forward, the ‘Horns came up with six — mostly timely — sacks against a Baylor offensive line that is among the best in the nation at protecting the quarterback.
In fact, the Bears entered the game having allowed opponents to sack Russell only four times all season.
The secondary had its share of notable moments, as well.
A Kris Boyd deflection popped up and was intercepted by Locke, and maligned cornerback John Bonney made some uncharacteristic pass break ups in single coverage that proved vital for the Longhorns.
There’s still plenty of room for improvement on both sides of the ball, but Texas did just enough to defend its turf and beat the No. 8 team in the nation, marking the second time in as many seasons that the Longhorns have knocked off the Bears.
If you ask Strong, he’ll tell you 4-4 is better with another top-10 victory is better than 3-5 after dropping five of the last six. And he would correct.