LAFAYETTE, Colo. – Three more teams sunk their teeth into Red River rugby after Arkansas opened the fall portion of the conference’s schedule last week with a 51-22 win over Texas Tech. This week the Red Raiders fell again, but did so to a resilient Baylor side, and Oklahoma clobbered TCU, 55-0.
An early yellow card didn’t stop Texas Tech from taking an early advantage over the Bears, and, in fact, it might have helped lead to its early 12-0 lead. Abubakar Sule was yellow carded just six minutes into the match. However, with fresh legs underneath, the outside center helped him take the ball over the end line almost immediately after returning from the sin bin. A conversion and Michael McCabe try just minutes later had the Red Raiders leading 12-0 in the early going.
“We went down 12-0 before we realized we were in a dogfight,” said Baylor Head Coach Mason Hering. “Tech did a great job of controlling the tempo and possession early on. I think the second try they scored was the wakeup call we needed.”
Lock forward Erriton Fuller got Baylor on the board and cut Tech’s lead to seven with a try midway through the opening half, and that’s how the score would remain until center Colby Johnson doubled the Bears’ point total two minutes into the second half.
Parker Vincent converted Johnson’s try as well as Pernell Greenidge’s 46th-minute score to put Baylor up 19-12. Texas Tech didn’t allow the Bears’ 19 consecutive points to derail its plans to earn its first conference win, and sent Sule over the line for two more tries to give the dynamic center a hat trick, and his team a 26-19 lead.
Baylor was able to shift the momentum back in its own direction when Greenidge scored his second try and Vincent’s conversion tied the match at 26-all. The Bears were awarded an opportunity to take the lead from the Red Raiders in the 76th minute when Baylor earned a penalty. Vincent, who made good on three of his four conversion attempts, split the uprights from 35 meters out to give the Bears a 29-26 lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
“It’s still early on but the team has shown a lot of grit this season,” Baylor’s second-year head coach added. “When our backs are against the wall we’ve been able to dig deep and find ways to win. It may not always be pretty, like this one, but we came away with a tough win on the road.”
Besides Vincent’s clutch kicking, Ryan MacIntosh was crucial to Baylor’s three-point win. The freshman flanker was all over the park for the Bears, and has made an immediate impact to the team’s forward pack.
After not recording a shutout all of last season, Oklahoma kept TCU off the scoreboard in its first Red River Conference match of the season.
“We take it personal when an opponent scores and worked hard to not let our mistakes or their hard work get rewarded with points,” Sooners Head Coach Doug Neubauer said of his team’s staunch defense.
Offensively, Kevin Lepissier, Manny Soto and Jonathan Lucas each scored tries for Oklahoma before the 20-minute mark, and teammates Zack Raines, and Luke Prosense would follow suit prior to the halftime hooter.
In the second half, Lepissier, Lucas and Sota bagged their second tries of the day, and William Neff would notch his first score of the year.
The 55-0 score was flattering enough on the surface, but Oklahoma feels it didn’t play its best, while TCU fell on some hard luck that didn’t allow the Horned Frogs to tighten the margin.
“Our pace and intensity were good, but we weren’t clean,” described Neubauer. “The one thing we did do well was take advantage of their mistakes.
“The score doesn’t indicate how hard TCU worked. They played hard until the last whistle.”
The Sooners will have to win on the road if they want to improve to 2-0 as the Texas Longhorns invite their rivals to Austin, Texas, Saturday, Oct. 7, in what will be the only Red River match of the weekend. Baylor, TCU and Texas Tech get back into their conference schedules Oct. 22; Baylor will be at home against Arkansas, while Tech will head to Oklahoma and TCU visits Houston.