FORT WORTH — TCU is bound for the Big 12 championship game and Baylor is headed home after a one-win season.
Though the longtime rivals have gone through much different seasons, there’s one thing they have in common: They still don’t like each other.
With Kenny Hill passing for 325 yards and three touchdowns, the No. 10 Horned Frogs pulled away in the second half for a 45-22 win over the Bears before 43,105 fans at Amon G. Carter Stadium on Friday afternoon.
A scuffle broke out late in the third quarter after TCU’s Chris Bradley yelled at the Baylor bench following a hit on the sidelines to Baylor running back JaMycal Hasty. Both the Baylor and TCU benches emptied and were assessed unsportsmanlike conduct penalties.
The game remained chippy early in the fourth quarter when Baylor safety Chris Miller hit Hill along the sideline, and the two players exchanged words. First-year Baylor coach Matt Rhule is learning just how passionate this rivalry is.
“We still have moments like that altercation on the sideline, and that’s not anything I’m proud of,” Rhule said. “But I think they’ve shown they’re competitive. I think they’ve shown with people behind them on the bench saying all kinds of things to us, our kids just keep playing. I just kept telling them to play football. It doesn’t matter what someone said to us. Just go out there and be respectful, and be prideful, and represent our university. We don’t need to get involved in all that mess.”
The Horned Frogs (10-2, 7-2) dominated the second half by outscoring Baylor, 24-3, to earn a spot against Oklahoma in the Big 12 championship game Dec. 2 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington. The Bears (1-11, 1-8) set a school record for losses in a season and won’t play in a bowl game for the first time in eight years.
But Rhule said TCU coach Gary Patterson was respectful to his team after the Horned Frogs built a decisive lead in the fourth quarter.
“He could have been throwing shots into the end zone and trying to embarrass us like a couple of other teams have done,” Rhule said. “He was respectful of our players and where we are. But you definitely see their fans were excited about the game. They should be proud of where they are.”
Baylor freshman quarterback Charlie Brewer hit 19 of 29 passes for 301 yards and two touchdowns, but also threw an interception and had a fumble that set up TCU touchdowns. Zach Smith replaced Brewer in the fourth quarter after he went out with a dislocated shoulder.
TCU delivered intense pressure against Baylor quarterbacks all afternoon by recording eight sacks, including 5½ by defensive end Mat Boesen.
The Bears played with a makeshift offensive line after starting guard Xavier Newman missed the game with an infection and tight end Jordan Feuerbacher was out with a lower extremity injury.
Patrick Lawrence moved from right tackle to left guard and Josh Malin moved in at right tackle. Left tackle Mo Porter played with a gimpy ankle, and was often beaten by Boesen’s powerful pass rushes. Ish Wainright took Feuerbacher’s spot at tight end, but the Bears were clearly at a disadvantage up front against TCU’s dominating defensive line.
“Boesen is a good player and they covered us pretty well at times,” Rhule said. “Mo, who we thought wouldn’t be able to go, we said ‘Hey can you go out there and gut it out?’ So he tried to gut it out. There were a lot of guys playing different positions than they had been. But I don’t want to take any credit from TCU.”
With Brewer hitting 14 of 19 passes for 250 yards, the Bears stuck close to the Horned Frogs in the first half, cutting TCU’s lead to 21-19 with Connor Martin’s career-long 48-yard field goal as time expired in the second quarter.
FORT WORTH — Baylor has suffered a remarkable number of injuries throughout the season, and it wasn’t any different in Friday’s season-ending …
Baylor’s defense provided an early spark as Lenoy Jones forced a Hill fumble on a blitz in the end zone. Offensive tackle Lucas Niang recovered for the Horned Frogs, but was tackled by Baylor defensive lineman Bravvion Roy for the safety to give the Bears a 2-0 lead just 50 seconds into the game.
The Bears stretched their lead to 9-0 when Brewer hit Blake Lynch for a 54-yard touchdown.
The Horned Frogs got a break when Boesen forced a Brewer fumble and Nick Orr recovered at Baylor’s 25. The turnover set up Kyle Hicks’ four-yard touchdown run around the right side as TCU cut Baylor’s lead to 9-7 with 8:59 left in the first quarter.
Later in the first quarter, the Horned Frogs pieced together an eight-play, 78-yard drive that featured KaVontae Turpin’s 18-yard run on a reverse and Hill’s 33-yard pass to Jarrison Stewart to Baylor’s 17.
TCU ended the drive with Hill’s seven-yard pass to Stewart over the middle to take a 14-9 lead with 26 seconds left in the first quarter.
TCU’s offense stayed hot on its next possession by moving 91 yards for a touchdown as Hill hit Hicks for 26 yards and Ty Slanina and Desmon White for 17 yards apiece. Sewo Olinilua exploded for a 32-yard touchdown to push TCU’s lead to 21-9 with 11:30 left in the second quarter.
“Hill gets the ball out quick and he makes plays on his feet,” said Baylor defensive lineman Ira Lewis. “He can throw the ball pretty well, so he’s a do it all type of guy. When he plays quarterback like that you’ve got to take advantage of your opportunities.”
Martin missed a 39-yard field goal but Brewer found Trestan Ebner for 58 yards down the left sideline on the next possession to trim TCU’s lead to 21-16 with 5:23 left in the second quarter.
“Against that defense that’s giving up 15 points a game, I thought they (Ebner and Lynch) gave us an explosive factor,” Rhule said. “Ebner came in and gave Charlie someone out of the backfield, and he was able to do so much with the football. With Trestan, the sky is the limit with what he can do.”
After TCU’s Cole Bunce missed a 45-yard field goal, Martin ended the first half with his career-long field goal.
On the first drive of the second half, Ty Summers intercepted Brewer’s pass to Denzel Mims at Baylor’s 33 to set up Hill’s 14-yard touchdown pass to White.
But Brewer came back with a 51-yard run to the 6 to set up Martin’s 23-yard field goal for his school-record 20th of the season as the Bears cut TCU’s lead to 28-22 with 9:56 left in the third quarter.
The Bears had a chance to take the lead when they drove to TCU’s 40. But on third and 15 at the 45, Boesen collected his third sack when he nailed Brewer for a six-yard loss.
Martin’s punt pinned the Horned Frogs at their own 10, but they quickly got out of the hole when Hill hit Olonilua for 24 yards as Baylor’s Jones and Verkedric Vaughns missed tackles.
Hill finished off the drive with a 30-yard touchdown pass to Jalen Reagor to extend TCU’s lead to 35-22 with 1:39 remaining in the third quarter.
“We were doing things good early, but in the second half we didn’t finish some things we needed to do,” Lewis said. “TCU is a good team and you can’t afford to do that. We tried to focus on stopping the run and also stopping the pass. But it kind of got away from us in the second half.”
On their next possession, the Horned Frogs drove 64 yards for a touchdown with Hill finishing it off with a three-yard run with 13:36 remaining in the game. Hill’s 29-yard pass to White kicked off the drive and his 16-yard pass to Slanina set up the touchdown.
TCU ended its scoring with Bunce’s 23-yard field goal with 8:45 left in the game.
Baylor’s long, injury-plagued season is over, but the players believe better things are on the way in upcoming seasons.
“I think it was pretty difficult,” Lynch said. “I think it would be difficult for any team to lose as much as we did. It didn’t have anything to do with the players and off the field issues. The losing kind of lowers a team’s confidence. But each and every week we find a way to come back and compete and have fun playing football.”