ARLINGTON — Baylor isn’t in Kansas anymore.
After breaking through with their first win last weekend in Lawrence, the Bears hoped to make it two straight against slumping Texas Tech.
But four costly turnovers and a missed opportunity at the goal line halted any chance of the Bears starting a winning streak as the Red Raiders held on for a 38-24 win before 34,482 fans Saturday afternoon at AT&T Stadium.
The Bears (1-9, 1-6) amassed 523 yards and 31 first downs, but the turnovers were just too much to overcome Texas Tech (5-5, 2-5), which snapped a four-game losing streak.
“Those four turnovers just really killed us,” said Baylor quarterback Charlie Brewer. “It was very frustrating. I thought we moved the ball pretty well throughout the game. We need to find a way to be more efficient in the red zone.”
The last time Brewer played at AT&T Stadium, he threw four touchdown passes to lead Lake Travis High School to a 41-13 win over The Woodlands to win the Class 6A Division I championship last December.
Brewer was eager to return after leading the Bears to a 38-9 win over Kansas last weekend in his first college start. He set Baylor records with 43 completions in 63 attempts and passed for 417 yards and three touchdowns against the Red Raiders, but he fumbled twice and threw an interception in the end zone near the end of the second quarter.
“I think you had to start with the three turnovers, and at the end of the day those are on him,” said Baylor coach Matt Rhule. “The fumbles are one thing, but the pick in the end zone was something I got after him a little bit. I thought he was competitive, I thought he was tough out there, I thought he took hits and continued to fight.”
Texas Tech senior quarterback Nic Shimonek was much more efficient than Brewer as he hit 24 of 29 for 246 yards and two touchdowns.
Baylor’s defense played admirably as it held the Red Raiders to 337 yards and 24 points, but Texas Tech benefited from Keke Coutee’s 92-yard return of the opening kickoff for a touchdown and Douglas Coleman’s 31-yard fumble return for a score in the fourth quarter.
“When we’ve watched other games, they’ve dropped 60 points on their opponents,” said Baylor linebacker Jordan Williams. “But we really held them to 24 points on defense. The defense has gotten a lot better, just knowing what we’re doing and finding the ball and playing fast.”
The Bears went into halftime trailing 21-7, but missed three opportunities to score as Brewer threw an interception and fumbled, and JaMycal Hasty was stopped at the goal line on fourth down.
It took the Red Raiders only 14 seconds to score as Coutee returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown.
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The Bears answered with a 12-play, 75-yard drive as Brewer hit six of eight passes for 43 yards. Brewer hit Gavin Holmes for a four-yard touchdown to tie the Red Raiders with 10:28 left in the first quarter. Holmes later left the game with what appears to be a season-ending knee injury.
Texas Tech needed just seven plays to respond as it moved 53 yards behind the running of Tre King who picked up 24 yards on the drive. Shimonek’s 14-yard pass to Dylan Cantrell and Quan Shorts’ 14-yard run set up King’s one-yard touchdown run to give the Red Raiders a 14-7 edge with 8:14 left in the first quarter.
After Brewer hit Denzel Mims with a 35-yard pass and Hasty ran for eight, the Bears were in great position to score with third-and-two at Tech’s 9. But after faking a handoff to Hasty, Brewer fumbled and Dakota Allen recovered at the 13.
The Red Raiders then reeled off a 16-play, 89-yard drive that featured two key missed tackles by Baylor cornerbacks that the Red Raiders turned into big plays.
After a short pass to Cantrell, Grayland Arnold missed a tackle that became a 24-yard gain. Shimonek then went to Coutee, who shook off Jameson Houston for 22 yards to Baylor’s 13.
Shimonek completed the drive with a five-yard touchdown pass to T.J. Vasher to open up a 21-7 lead with 12:11 left in the second quarter.
“The missed tackles are a problem,” Rhule said. “We’re covering better and we’re not giving up the big play anymore. But we still do have issues with missed tackles at times. We’ll keep coaching it and we’ll get better at it.”
Baylor responded with an 11-play, 78-yard drive to Tech’s 1. But the Red Raiders defense rose to the occasion as Hasty was stopped on fourth down at the goal line to end Baylor’s threat.
Hasty led Baylor’s ground game with 73 yards on 13 carries while making nine catches for 51 yards. Terence Williams dealt with a shoulder injury, and only carried three times for seven yards.
“Terence has had shoulder surgery and he’s banged up,” Rhule said. “I didn’t want to put him in there on fourth-and-one without him getting a carry or two and got himself back going. And JaMycal was running the football really well.”
With the first half nearing an end, the Bears put together another scoring threat as they moved to Texas Tech’s 30. But Dorsey intercepted Brewer’s lob to Blake Lynch in the end zone with 17 seconds left in the second quarter.
The Red Raiders drove to Baylor’s 1 on their opening drive of the second half. King tried to dive for a touchdown but the ball hit Jordan Williams’ helmet and lineman Tyrone Hunt recovered for a touchback.
The Bears gave the ball back to the Red Raiders when Brewer fumbled for the second time following a botched fake, and Texas Tech lineman Mychealon Thomas recovered at Baylor’s 35 to set up Clayton Hatfield’s 39-yard field goal.
“It’s very frustrating,” said Mims, who made a career-high 12 catches for 152 yards. “We had the mindset that they couldn’t stop us, and it showed that they really couldn’t. Little mistakes like the turnovers are what hurt us today.”
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The Bears answered with a 75-yard drive that featured Brewer’s 40-yard pass to Lynch, who played both receiver and cornerback. Brewer finished off the drive with a 6-yard touchdown pass to Pooh Stricklin to cut the Red Raiders’ lead to 24-14 with 1:08 left in the third quarter.
Stricklin recovered Baylor’s onside kick but teammate Timarcus Davis was called for catching interference, a 15-yard penalty that gave the Red Raiders a possession at Baylor’s 32.
Texas Tech took advantage of its great field position as Shimonek hit Cameron Batson for a 30-yard touchdown after Baylor safety Verkedric Vaughns missed a tackle with 44 seconds left in the third quarter.
Connor Martin drilled a 34-yard field goal for the Bears to cut Texas Tech’s lead to 31-17 with 7:57 remaining, and they had a shot to pull within a touchdown on their next possession.
But Coleman stripped the ball from Tony Nicholson after he caught a pass from Brewer and returned the fumble 31 yards for a touchdown to push Texas Tech’s lead to 38-17 with 5:25 remaining.
The Bears scored their final touchdown when Mims grabbed a 3-yard pass from Brewer with 1:33 remaining, but it was far too late.
Baylor only has two games remaining with Saturday’s date against No. 24 Iowa State at McLane Stadium and the Nov. 24 season finale against No. 8 TCU in Fort Worth. The Bears are convinced they still have some fight left in them.
“I take a lot from this game, but the most important thing is we came together as a team and we didn’t quit,” Stricklin said. “When things started going bad, we didn’t quit. When they scored, brought back the kickoff return, I saw people dropping their heads, like, ‘Oh no, here we go again.’ But they came out ready to go, and that’s what I like.”