Football falls to N. TexasSept. 9, 2003
By Matt Richards, reporter
The Baylor Bears' hopes of a big victory over the University of North Texas were unrealized thanks to a combination of turnovers and tough UNT defense, resulting in a 52-14 loss for Baylor.
The game's seven turnovers, six in the first half alone, played a big part in UNT's victory over Baylor.
Junior quarterback Aaron Karas fumbled after being sacked by UNT junior defensive tackle Evan Cardwell. Senior defensive tackle Brandon Kennedy picked up the fumble and ran for a 24-yard touchdown. It was the first career touchdown for Kennedy, the 2002 Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year.
The fumble quickly set the tone for the game. On the next possession, junior wide receiver John Martin fumbled on the UNT 17-yard line. The turnover killed the Baylor drive that would have likely resulted in a touchdown. UNT recovered and scored on the next play after an 83-yard run by sophomore running back Patrick Cobbs.
The second quarter garnered only continued difficulties for the Bears. After a Karas interception, UNT drove the length of the field but was held to only a field goal, pushing the Mean Green up by seventeen.
Baylor senior running back Rashad Armstrong fumbled on the UNT 23-yard line on the first drive in the second quarter, ending the Bears hopes of a touchdown. The snowball effect began to take over at that point. Karas threw two interceptions in the following possessions, both within the UNT 30-yard line.
'I told the guys that as soon as they make up their mind to put a stop to all these penalties and dropped balls and throwing it to the other guys, we might be 0-12 before it's all over,' head Coach Guy Morriss said. 'At some point they've got to take some responsibility to get that stuff corrected.'
At the half, with six turnovers, the Bears held the Mean Green to a marginal 17-0 score. Despite the six turnovers, the game remained within reach of the Bears thanks to a strong defense. Junior defensive end Khari Long clogged the running lanes, amassing six solo tackles. Senior defensive back Matt Johnson also helped the Bear's cause with an interception late in the second quarter.
'Nobody's going to overcome six turnovers in the first half,' head Coach Guy Morriss said. 'The fortunate thing was we were only down by 17. We made every mistake in the book, and we were still in the ball game if we could just get our act together.'
Unfortunately, the second half was downhill for Baylor. The opening kickoff was fumbled and recovered on the Baylor 13-yard line by UNT. It took only two plays for UNT to make the score 24-0.
UNT ran all over the Baylor defense in the second half. Sophomore running back Roy Bishop sliced through the Bear defense, running for 94 yards in the second half. The UNT running game led to touchdowns on four consecutive drives.
'We felt like we needed to get the running game going after the first week,' UNT head Coach Darrell Dickey said. 'We wanted to throw the ball more tonight, but we had so much success running, we were able to wear them down.'
Bright spots were few and far between for the Bears. Armstrong ran for 89 yards but was limited by Kennedy and the UNT defense in the second half. Karas completed 14 of 24 passes for 116 yards and one touchdown.
One highlight came from Baylor's sophomore wide receiver Jay Fields. Fields played strong in the second half, catching five passes for 55 yards. Red shirt freshman quarterback Shawn Bell completed all five of his passes for 67 yards and led Baylor down the field in the fourth quarter.
'I liked the way some of young kids played when they got in the ball game,' Morriss said. 'We're going to take a look at the take and start making some tough decisions on who we line up and play with.'
It's clear that there are more questions than answers remaining for the Bears. The team looks to regroup this weekend at home against Southern Methodist University.