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Bears' mistakes lost OU game

Nov. 17, 1998

BY TORIE JOHNSON

Reporter

Torie_Johnson@baylor.edu

When a team has more penalty yards than rushing yards, three interceptions, a fumble and a blocked punt, it has little chance of winning a football game. The Bears found themselves in that situation Saturday in their 28-16 loss to the University of Oklahoma Sooners in Waco.

'Our team played very hard, but you can't make the mistakes that we made and have a chance to win,' head Coach Dave Roberts said.

Roberts was not the only person who knew that mistakes hurt the team's chances--the players knew it, too.

'We had the game won, and stupid mistakes cost us the game,' sophomore defensive back Gary Baxter said.

The Bears and Sooners were two evenly matched teams. Coming into the game, Baylor was 2-7 with one Big 12 win, and Oklahoma was not much better at 3-6 and one conference win. Both squads were struggling offensively, but OU had the 10th-ranked defense in the country. However, on paper, the Bears appeared to be better than the Sooners, and therefore, losing because of mistakes and penalties only made the game more frustrating.

'We practiced all week long knowing we were going to beat these guys,' Baxter said. 'They were struggling and we were struggling, and it was our time to shine. We had the lead in the first half, but in the second half it was all downhill.'

The Sooners' defense remained true to its 10th-ranked form. Not only did it hold the Bears to only 16 points, Baylor could only muster 202 yards of total offense. The Bear defense, on the other hand, gave up 365 offensive yards to the Sooners.

According to Roberts, the game plan was to limit turnovers and give the defense a chance to do what it had done all season--keep the game close until the offense could get on track. The plan worked for a half, but quickly fell apart for the Bears.

Junior quarterback Jermaine Alfred started for Baylor, but sophomore quarterback Odell James came in on Baylor's second possession and split time with Alfred throughout the first half. Neither quarterback was very efficient. Alfred completed six of 18 passes for 53 yards with two interceptions for the game, and James completed just two passes in six attempts for 12 yards and one interception.

The Bears did gain momentum as the first half ended and the second began, however. They sustained a drive that ended with a 49-yard field goal by senior Matt Bryant, and converted another Oklahoma interception, by senior rush end Clifton Rubin, into seven points. The Baylor lead was 10-0 early in the third quarter. From there, the downhill slide began.

In the second half, OU's junior running back De'Mond Parker found the holes in the Baylor defense, breaking a 53-yard run in the third quarter that set up the first Oklahoma touchdown. With his 207 yards on 29 carries and three touchdowns, Parker became the first Sooner in OU history to have three consecutive 1,000 yard seasons.

'Parker is a great running back,' Rubin said. 'We (the defense) had an OK game, but we could have stopped him. We could have shut him down, but things didn't go our way.'

The Sooners did not have to play the good defense they had been using all season against the Bears, as both Alfred and James threw an interception in the second half.

'When you are up 10-0 and kick off, then they miss a field goal, then there's another turnover, and all of a sudden they are ahead, it is hard to battle back and win,' Roberts said.

The Bears did put up a valiant effort defensively. Baxter, along with his interception, had a blocked field goal, and Rubin, along with the interception return for the touchdown, had a blocked punt late in the fourth quarter. Offensively, freshman quarterback Mike Odum connected with wide receiver Derrius Thompson late in the fourth quarter for Baylor's final score.

However, it was too little and too late, as the Bears were already down 28-10 at that point. Scoring four consecutive touchdowns, the Sooners sent Baylor to 2-8 overall and 1-6 in the Big 12. Baylor will finish its 1998 season on the road next Saturday at Oklahoma State University. The game will begin at 11:30 a.m. and will be televised.

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