Courtesy Big 12 News
WACO, Texas — While some Baylor fans were filing out of McLane Stadium, full of doubts and disappointment, quarterback Bryce Petty was looking into his teammates eyes and reaffirming his belief that his team would find a way to win on Saturday.
“I told our guys we werenâ€™t going to lose that game,â€ Petty said of the sequence early in the fourth quarter. “I donâ€™t know what it is, I donâ€™t know why I felt that. I just knew, looking in guysâ€™ faces, we were going to come back in that game.â€
Twelve minutes later, Petty and his teammates were surrounded by rowdy fans clad in green and gold celebrating a game-winning 28-yard field goal from Chris Callahan as Baylor defeated TCU 61-58. Petty and the Bears scored 24 unanswered points in the final quarter to improve to 6-0 overall, 3-0 in the Big 12 and cement their status as the favorite to win the Big 12.
The battle between No. 5 Baylor and No. 9 TCU (4-1, 1-1) — the first-ever meeting between the two teams when both were ranked — exceeded expectations. Petty put up prolific numbers with 510 passing yards and six touchdowns, along with a pair of interceptions, but was matched by the playmaking of TCU running back B.J. Catalon, who had 213 all-purpose yards and three touchdowns. Big plays, trick plays, big hits and 38 combined points in the final 15 minutes left the Bearsâ€™ newly-minted stadium buzzing.
Chris Callahanâ€™s field goal as time expired gave Baylor and its fans reason to go bonkers on Saturday.
“I think there were 40 plays in this game that determined the football game,â€ Baylor coach Art Briles said. “We made 21 and they made 19.â€
After TCU linebacker Marcus Mallet intercepted a Petty pass and returned it 49 yards for a score, BU trailed the Horned Frogs 58-37 with 11:38 left in the game, prompting a small number of Bears fans to head for the exits.
Petty was unfazed.
“With our offense and the way we play defensively, 21 points isnâ€™t that big a deal for us,â€ he said. “We just know that weâ€™re never out of it, we really never are.â€
It was an interesting reaction from a team that had never trailed at any point of the 2014 season heading into Saturdayâ€™s action. BU was chasing the game throughout — trailing by 14 in the first quarter and 21 in the fourth quarter — and never took the lead until Callahanâ€™s game winner.
“This was the first game this year that we were behind,â€ defensive tackle Andrew Billings said. “It showed that wasnâ€™t going to affect how we played even though we were down 21 at one point.â€
For the second straight week, Baylor found a way. Against Texas, BU turned to its running game and special teams to lead the way in a 28-7 road win in Austin, Texas. This week it was the entire team that stepped up with its backs against the wall and College Football Playoff hopes in jeopardy in the final 10 minutes of the fourth quarter.
“We have a saying — â€˜clear itâ€™ — if something bad happens, something good happens, clear it and move on to the next play,â€ linebacker Bryce Hager said. “It was just one of those games we kind of knew, we had a feeling. When we needed to step up, we stepped up and when the offense needed to step up, they did the same.â€
Buoyed by a pair of questionable pass interference calls, one questionable non-call on BUâ€™s Ryan Reid on a critical fourth-down attempt by TCU and one pass interference penalty against TCUâ€™s Corry Oâ€™Meally, the Bears completed their comeback with a nine-play, 44-yard drive to set up Callahanâ€™s field goal.
“Everyone played really, really well at the end of the game,â€ tackle Spencer Drango said.
And in doing so the Bears showed the type of resilience generally equated with championship-level teams. Trevone Boykin and TCU came with punch after punch to the jaw of the reigning Big 12 champions, but the Bearsâ€™ belief in their ability to win didnâ€™t waver.
“Every champion has his back against the wall at some point in time and either cowers down or comes out swinging,â€ Drango said. “We came out swinging.â€
Itâ€™s a relatively new trait of the program that Briles has built alongside the banks of the Brazos River.
“I think thatâ€™s the difference now,â€ receiver Antwan Goodley said. “A couple years ago we didnâ€™t have that mentality that, â€˜Hey, weâ€™re the best team and weâ€™re going to go out there and play like it.â€™ This year, all of us guys are hungry, we want the same thing and we can get it done.â€