Four in a row, revenge and control of their own fate perfectly describe the Baylor Bears following the weekend’s 27-10 win over division rival Oklahoma. And with one conference game left to play before the Red River Championship on April 1st, Baylor is one step closer to representing the North in that bout.
Two different outings, two completely different Baylor teams, but it was sharpness and confidence that was missing from the green and gold’s shut out loss back in November, according to head coach Mason Hering.
It was a similar tale in the first half this time around. While there were plenty of opportunities to capitalize, it did not translate to points on the board in the first half. It was not a lack of preparation, but rather fighting their own mental game. Fortunately for Baylor it did not last long.
The Sooners took the lead early off of a penalty kick in the 13th minute. A try by wing Phillip Rice added to Oklahoma’s lead in the 25th, and the ensuing conversion put the squad up 10-0.
“Honestly we were doing quite well early on especially in the set piece but we just kept making little mistakes that cost us from putting points on the board,” Hering admitted. “We had some big game jitters we had to shake off I guess. Once we calmed down a bit we got in our groove and started playing solid rugby.”
In the final moments of the half, Baylor finally found the right gear. After a penalty kick by the Bears, a botched box kick attempt gave opportunity for Baylor full back Luke Davis to break open. Jeffrey Scott finished what Davis started, scoring the try, and the ensuing conversion by Parker Vincent tied the game 10-10 as the half came to a dramatic close.
“[Davis and Scott] are both long striding runners that make them deceptively fast,” Hering added. “That switched the momentum in our favor and we kept it for good.”
The score remained the same until halfway through the second half. Following a yellow card by Oklahoma’s Luis Nunez, 8-man Pete Hamm gave Baylor the lead in the 60th minute. Parker’s second conversion made it 17-10, but it was substitute Abu Karama that put the game out of reach with two tries in ten minutes.
“Abu is a special talent and one I’m really excited to work with,” Hering said. “He’s so new to rugby that he’s still very much learning as he goes. He’s been hampered by a hamstring injury that has meant he hasn’t gotten enough rugby in the past two months that I’d like for him to but he was able to come on and still make an impact against Oklahoma. With his speed and vision he can really change the game for us if we get it to him in space. He’s one to watch for sure.”
It was the lowest offensive performance of the year for Oklahoma, who drop to 4-3 on the season following the loss. They will aim to rebound on Mar. 4 on the road against Texas.
Baylor improves to 6-1, and will look to make it five consecutive wins when they host Texas Tech Feb. 25. Sitting at 27 points, Baylor only needs to win or tie against the Red Raiders in order to earn a trip to the Red River Conference Championship.
Elsewhere in the Red River, Texas A&M topped TCU 79-12 to snap a two game losing streak in the conference. Nine separate Aggies recorded tries in the contest, including two each by Justin Brown, Jared Cordts, James Grahamn, and John Schell. TCU, meanwhile, was held at bay until the second half when Nick Larsen scored in the 55th minute. Zach Trigg followed up for the Horned Frogs in the final moments of the game to add another try and conversion.
TCU heads to Arkansas next on Mar. 4 on the back end of a two game road trip.
Texas A&M hosts #17 LSU the same day; sitting at 22 points behind the Tigers, who have 25 points, a win would keep the Aggies alive in pursuit of the Red River South title.