West Virginia Baylor Football

Baylor’s Charlie Brewer is pushed out of bounds by West Virginia cornerback Corey Winfield (20).

Staff photo — Rod Aydelotte

And, just like that, the legend of Charlie Brewer was born.

Wait, check that. Call him Chuckie Comeback.

For weeks, Baylor coach Matt Rhule has been practically begging for someone to step up and make a play. For much of Saturday’s game against West Virginia, he was still begging. The Mountaineers built a commanding 38-13 lead through three quarters, and many of the alums who made the trip back to Waco for homecoming had made the trek to the parking lot for the drive home.

And who could blame them? Baylor’s offense seemed locked to a treadmill much of the night. The Bears were running in place.

Then Babyface Brewer came in, and everything suddenly changed. He flipped the script. In fact, he ordered a complete rewrite. (No, really, I almost had my entire gameday column done, until the fourth-quarter fireworks ignited. Kids, man. They always keep you on your toes.)

“Charlie showed he had moxie tonight,” Rhule said.

That the comeback fell short shouldn’t lessen its impact. Brewer and his buddies turned regression into progression. They took a step forward on Saturday.

And they needed that.

Obviously they wanted more. You might even say they needed more. Competitors want to win, and a two-point loss doesn’t go down as smoothly as a two-point win.

But keep it all in perspective. Put it in a Friday Night Lights kind of way – if the freshman team pushed the varsity all the way to the brink, wouldn’t that be something?

That’s what we’re looking at here. Every Baylor player who scored a touchdown was a freshman. A rookie. Brewer had thrown all of seven passes as a collegian before Saturday night. He nearly doubled that number in the fourth quarter, and finished with 109 yards, two touchdowns and more than a few America’s Got Talent-worthy magic tricks.

Granted, the Bears are getting tired of searching out the moral to the story.

They’re growing weary of taking their lumps. And have you ever tried licking your wounds for two months straight? Tastes terrible. Like every bad jelly bean flavor in Beanboozled – including Dead Fish, Stinky Socks and Lawn Clippings.

“I know they’re disappointed,” Rhule said. “Unfortunately we let the game get too far away before mounting that comeback.”

Patience is a virtue, and at some point in the future things will reverse direction for the Bears. But when you’re 18, 19 and 20 years old, your wait-o-meter hasn’t fully matured. Those Baylor players are desperate for something good to happen. They’re desperate for a win.

In the fourth quarter, Brewer and fellow freshman Trestan Ebner pushed a Baylor team that trailed by 25 points to the very cusp of victory. Whatever that means for the present, it certainly bodes well for Baylor’s future.

At this point, Rhule might as well let the kids run wild. Brewer earned a look as a starter on Saturday night. So too did Ebner. You thought the Bears were young before? They’re about to get younger.

There will be growing pains ahead. Just because Brewer blistered the Mountaineers for a quarter – after they’d gone up by more than three touchdowns and likely let down their guard – doesn’t mean he’ll torch Texas for four quarters next week. Baylor is still banged up, still faces major depth issues. Translation – it’s not going to get any easier.

But Rhule wanted a playmaker to emerge. Chuckie Comeback answered the bell.

“They are strong enough to go through this,” Rhule said. “Somebody has to go through this tough time … they’re enduring this tough time, and they did it tonight with class and toughness. And they fought for their university. … Why is that important? Because there’s going to be a day when the scoreboard is flipped.”

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