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Baylor says hello Dave, goodbye John

Nov. 4, 1997

Field goal attempt sails wide right as Bears snap eight-game conference losing streak with win over archrival Texas

By Kevin Allen

Sports Writer for The Baylor Lariat

It was a long time coming, but a win against Texas was even sweeter after a four-year drought.

'This is about as great a feeling as there is,' senior lineman Michael Johnson said. 'It just shows that fighting until the end pays off.'

For the first time since 1992, the Baylor Bears defeated the Texas Longhorns 23­21. It was just the second time the Bears have beaten a John Mackovic-coached Texas team. The Dallas Morning News reported last week that Mackovic may be in his last season as the Longhorns' coach, and the loss to Baylor might have sealed his fate, according to several reporters who follow the Longhorns.

But the fate of Mackovic was far from the minds of Baylor fans and players, as the win gave Head Coach Dave Roberts his first Big 12 Conference win and gave the players their first win over the Longhorns.

'I was very, very proud of the football team,' Roberts said. 'I told them yesterday, 'just keep playing, and something good is going to happen to you.''

The Bears wanted to attack the Longhorn defense early and establish their offense, according to Roberts. To do this, the Bears started the game with their no-huddle offense, and redshirt-freshman running back Darrell Bush took the ball 65 yards on the first play from scrimmage.

'We've been knocked around in our first series,' Roberts said. 'Somehow, we've got to get some first downs ... and let some people know we can play.'

Much of the credit for the offense's success can be attributed to the offensive line, according to Roberts. The line played much better than they did against Iowa State, when they gave up seven sacks for 69 lost yards.

'I think (the offensive line) finally got in the groove of things,' senior lineman David Davis said after the game. 'It always seemed like in the past, one or two things would break down. We just played a much better game.'

The early run by Bush set the tone for the rest of the game, as the Baylor offense was able to control the ball for over 36 minutes of the game. The offense had its best outing of the season according to Roberts, gaining 415 yards of total offense, almost 100 yards more than their season average.

Bush led the ground game for the Bears, gaining 129 yards on 17 carries. Bush averaged 7.6 yards per carry, matching his season average. Sophomore running back Elijah Burkins also contributed to the ground game, gaining 72 yards and scoring the first touchdown for the Bears.

'It was a great team effort,' Burkins said. 'All three backs (Bush, Burkins and Douglas) have different styles, and we just wore them down.'

Quarterbacks Jeff Watson and Odell James split time in the first half, and took the Bears into the locker-room down 14­13. But it was all Watson in the second half, as he finished with 166 yards passing and one touchdown. Most of those passes went to junior wide receiver Derrius Thompson, who gained 100 yards through the air. He is the first receiver to gain 100 yards in a game for the Bears this season.

'Derrius is doing a great job, and he's a great athlete,' Watson said during the post-game interviews.

Defensively, the Bears continued to improve against a powerful Texas offense. The defense was able to contain running back Ricky Williams, the leading rusher in the nation. Although Wil-liams gained 226 yards on the day, Roberts was excited about the effort of the defense.

'I thought the defensive tackles played well, the defensive ends played well and the linebackers played well,' Roberts said. '(Williams) gained 226 yards -- I thought we played great.'

This week, the Bears will travel down the Brazos, facing the Texas A&M Aggies at 1 p.m. Saturday at Kyle Field in College Station. The Bears have not beaten the Aggies since 1985.

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