It was a bad day on all sides of the ball for the 2-3 West Virginia football team, as the Baylor Bears scored two plays into the game and never looked back on the way to a 45-20 rout of the Mountaineers.
Baylor, coming off the team’s only loss to the No. 18 Oklahoma State Cowboys, was out for blood at home. Two plays into regulation, Baylor junior quarterback Gerry Bohanon threw up a Hail Mary-style pass to senior wide receiver Tyquan Thornton. It sailed 75 yards into Thornton’s hands and consequently into the end zone. Off Bohanon’s eighth touchdown pass of the season, the Bears were already up 7-0 only 41 seconds in. It was the first of many challenges to the Mountaineer secondary.
Luckily for the Mountaineers, it only took WVU offensive coordinator Gerad Parker’s team six plays on the next drive to tie up the score. WVU senior running back Leddie Brown converted the team’s first third down with a one-yard rush, and WVU quarterback redshirt senior quarterback Jarret Doege strung together the next two plays for solid passing yardage. A 53-yard pass to redshirt junior wide receiver Sam James dramatically changed the field position, allowing a quick 12-yard pass to junior wide receiver Sam James to land in the end zone.
Baylor was quick to squash any hopes of a close game though, when the offense converted its first fourth down and quickly transitioned it into a Bohanon to Thornton 44-yard pass. Bohanon showed his versatility with a three-yard rush down to the WVU 10-yard line. The next play, Bohanon found junior tight end Ben Sims, whom WVU head coach Neal Brown had noted as a force to be reckoned with, for a 10-yard touchdown pass. With 9:22 left in the first quarter, the score was already 14-7.
It got progressively worse for this Mountaineer team, as three plays into its second drive, Doege’s third down pass was picked off by senior safety Jalen Pitre and the team was forced to turn the ball over. This placed the Bears at the WVU 48-yard line. It only took the Bears offense five plays to find the Mountaineer end zone again, this time from a Bohanon one-yard QB keep. Five and a half minutes remained in a high-scoring first quarter, as the Mountaineer deficit grew to 21-7.
The Bears scored in each of the team’s three possessions, but Doege and WVU couldn’t convert another drive to score until the middle of the second quarter. The next WVU possession saw Doege not only not advance the football, but add two sacks at the hands of Baylor’s linebackers senior Terrel Bernard and sophomore Garmon Randolph on back-to-back plays. The sacks on second and third down forced Mountaineer punter Tyler Sumpter and the punt unit out, this time to the tune of a 42-yarder. This was his second punt of the drive; Baylor had committed a roughing the punter penalty on his first 52-yard punt that put the ball back in Doege’s hands prior to the pair of sacks.
The Bears continued to pound down the field, but the first quarter peacefully wound to a 21-7 close.
WVU implemented the two-quarterback system and brought redshirt freshman Garrett Greene out for the Mountaineers’ first second quarter possession. On first down, Greene showed off his rushing power with an 18-yard QB keep, but threw incompletions the rest of the series, forcing Sumpter to punt again, this time for 43 yards.
Baylor’s next drive began at its own 14, but that didn’t stop the Bears from charging down the field. In five plays, the Bohanon to Thornton connection proved alive and well. Thornton found himself in the WVU end zone once more, with an 11-yard pass in his hands. In the second quarter, the Bears notched seven more points on, now leading 28-7 with just fewer than 10 minutes to play in the half. Entering this game, the Bears averaged 208.8 passing yards a game, and already, Bohanon’s team had registered 262 yards.
Doege strung a solid series together for the Mountaineers next, including connections with wide receivers redshirt senior Isaiah Esdale, redshirt junior Bryce Ford-Wheaton, and junior Winston Wright Jr., but it only amounted to moving the sticks down to the Baylor 12-yard line. WVU kicker Casey Legg kicked a 29-yarder through the uprights to slightly close the WVU deficit 28-10, thus concluding the first half’s scoring.
It wasn’t that simple to get the Mountaineers into the locker room though. WVU’s next drive, Doege registered his third sack of the game, getting pummeled into the turf by sophomore defensive tackle Siaki Ika. This pushed the Mountaineer offense back an additional eight yards, and the remaining third down amounted to a one-yard Brown rush. Sumpter’s fourth punt sailed 48 yards, and Baylor couldn’t capitalize on its drive attempt either, sending each team to its locker room for halftime.
Baylor held the WVU offense to a measly 183 yards of total offense in the first half, while running around and through the defense for 322 yards. Although turnover margin had been the Mountaineers’ Achilles’ Heel thus far, only one turnover was committed in the half.
When the Mountaineers and Bears emerged from the locker rooms, the WVU offense was ready to advance. It worked down the field, converting three second downs, en route to land at the Baylor five-yard line. It was, once more, close enough for Legg to boot, and boot he did; this time, the 27-yard field goal secured his 10th made field goal of the season. WVU still trailed Baylor 28-13. It closed the scoring opportunities for the Mountaineers, but the Bears pressed on.
Four plays later, Baylor offensive coordinator Jeff Grimes’ team came out swinging. Bohanon completed a solid pass to Sims down the left hashes, good for 29 yards and the teams’ fifth score. With 8:43 left in the third quarter, Baylor lead WVU 35-13.
WVU’s offense looked questionable at best, adding Ika’s second sack of the game, a self-inflicted false start penalty from redshirt freshman O-lineman Jordan White, and sack from BU’s junior D-lineman TJ Franklin, all over the course of seven plays.
When the WVU defense took the field, it wasn’t much better. Bohanon completed a couple short yardage passes to Thornton, and a 20-yard rush from senior running back Abram Smith placed the Bears at the WVU 31. Smith hit the hole perfectly the next play to add 31 yards to the Baylor rushing game, and another BU touchdown to the scoreboard. With 4:37 remaining in the third quarter, Baylor ratcheted the scoring up 42-13. Greene continued his rushing prowess for WVU, adding 13-, five-, and three-yard rushes on the next series, but it was all for naught, as the third quarter ground to a close.
In the final quarter of play, WVU squandered a quick set of downs, forcing Sumpter to punt again for 53 yards. The next drive, Baylor was finally forced to kick its first field goal. Freshman kicker Isaiah Hankins’ 45-yard field goal pushed the Bears up 45-13 with 10:12 to play in the game. After a third-quarter touchdown drought and a sack the previous play, Greene rushed 13 yards into the end zone for his first score of the game and his fourth rushing touchdown of the season. WVU trailed 45-20 with 4:18 left in the game, and the score would stand.
Baylor ended this meeting with 525 yards of total offense, and held West Virginia to 362. This marks WVU’s first 0-3 conference start since 2015.
With this dominant Baylor win, the Mountaineers dropped to 2-4 and the Bears advanced to 5-1. WVU will recover during next week’s BYE before continuing the Texas road trip on Oct. 23 to face TCU in Fort Worth. Brown’s WVU team is still seeking a reprieve from its now-seven-game road loss streak.