Waco, TX (SportsNetwork.com) - After a successful debut in their new stadium, the 10th-ranked Baylor Bears get right back to work as they entertain the Northwestern State Demons on Saturday night.
Northwestern State, a Football Championship Subdivision school, opened the 2014 campaign with a 34-27 home loss to Missouri State. The defeat was particularly touch to swallow when you consider the visiting Bears roared back from a 17-point halftime deficit to stun the Natchitoches crowd.
"It's a hard lesson for us but by no means a devastating loss. It's a painful one. We have 11 games left and I saw enough tonight to know we can be a very good football team. We were for a good portion of the game but didn't close the door on them on several occasions," Demons' coach Jay Thomas said.
This is the first of four straight road games for the Demons, and they won't play in front of the hometown faithful again until hosting Southland Conference rival Incarnate Word on Oct. 11.
Baylor easily disposed of SMU last Sunday in the first game played at the brand new McLane Stadium. The Bears dominated the action from the outset, and wound up blanking the Mustangs in a 45-0 final. It was the 11th straight win for BU in the series with SMU, and the team's first four-quarter shutout since 1995.
Baylor won a school-record 11 games in 2013, claimed its first Big 12 title, and earned its first trip to a BCS bowl game. The Bears have now won 11 straight home games, and are an impressive 20-1 in Waco since 2011.
This bout marks the fourth all-time meeting between these two teams, with Baylor winning each of the first three, all of which took place in Waco.
Northwestern State scored 24 points in the first half last week against Missouri State, but managed just three points after the break in suffering the shocking loss.
The Demons produced nearly 500 yards of total offense, including 318 from the arm of quarterback Zach Adkins. The rushing attack accounted for 175 yards, with De'Mar Llorens rumbling his way to a career-high 94 yards on only 11 carries. He opened the scoring with a 53-yard run just a few minutes into the contest. Unfortunately, the club committed three turnovers and was just 1-of-2 on red-zone scoring opportunities.
Adkins went 31-of-42, tossing a couple of TDs while being picked off once. He did not suffer a sack, which was a testament to the job turned in by the offensive line, which also helped the squad average 4.4 ypc on the ground. Ed Eagan was the team's top receiver, as he hauled in nine balls for 107 yards and a score. Tuff McClain and Bryan Mitchell combined for nine receptions, 134 yards and a TD.
It was tale of two halves for the Northwestern State defense in last week's opener, as it held Missouri State to a single touchdown in the opening 30 minutes, and allowed 27 points over the final 30. In all, the Bears churned out 418 yards, the bulk of which came via the run (223).
Justin Evans and Marion Chapman paced the defense with nine tackles apiece, while Imoa Claiborne came up with its lone takeaway (INT). A lack of big plays (one turnover, one TFL, no sacks) clearly played a role in the second-half collapse.
With Heisman hopeful Bryce Petty leading the way, the Baylor offense was firing on all cylinders early in last week's opener against SMU. Petty played only in the first half, finishing with 161 passing yards, two passing TDs and one rushing. With the effort, Petty extended his streak with at least one touchdown pass to a school-record 14 games, breaking a tie with Baylor's lone Heisman Trophy winner -- Robert Griffin III.
Petty took a pretty good shot early in the contest, appearing to suffer a lower back injury. He played after the hit, but was kept out of action after the intermission.
BU had a 24-0 lead at the end of the opening quarter, and finished with 574 yards of total offense. Shock Linwood led the rushing attack with 89 yards and a TD, the unit as a whole tallying 261 yards and three scores on the ground in the game. Jay Lee and Davion Hill both had more than 80 receiving yards, with the former also securing a TD catch, it coming from backup Seth Russell near the end of the third quarter.
The Bears made mincemeat of the Ponies when they had the ball, yielding a mere 67 total yards. They were especially tough against the run, holding the visitors to -24 net yards, arriving at the figure due in large part to the eight sacks recorded on SMU's three quarterbacks that saw action in the game. They permitted only 91 yards through the air and came up with three turnovers. SMU fumbled the football six times, losing two of them.
Shawn Oakman led the BU stand with six tackles, which included a pair of sacks. In all, the Bears were credited with 13 TFL.
Baylor head coach Art Briles was obviously pleased with the effort put forth by his defense.
"I don't feel like we were that effective offensively. We were just kind of hit or miss on some things. But defensively, that's how we won the game. We kind of felt like going in we would have a good defense. What I saw tonight was a lot of strength and a lot of speed."