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Bears score first victory

Sept. 16, 2003

By Matt Richards, reporter

Drawing from the defensive team and a solid second half by senior running back Rashad Armstrong, the Bears defeated Southern Methodist University 10-7 at Floyd Casey Stadium Saturday.

The game was the first win of the year for the Bears and the first under new head Coach Guy Morriss. The Bears now have a 1-2 non-conference record, with conference play beginning Oct. 4 against the University of Colorado.

The game was a battle between two teams looking to rebuild their respective programs. The Bears started off this season with an 0-2 record under Morriss and the new coaching staff.

The SMU Mustangs are rebuilding their football program as well, which was penalized because of NCAA rules violations in 1989. They are in their second year under the leadership of head Coach Phil Bennett.

The Bears' offense struggled in the first half to gain 69 yards and three first downs. The SMU defense stifled the running holes for Armstrong, limiting him to only six yards on four carries.

Junior quarterback Aaron Karas also was hampered by the SMU defense. He completed six of 17 passes for 62 yards.

Coach Morriss said he was frustrated at the half by the Bears' offensive play.

'Defensively we're in pretty good shape,' Morriss said. 'Special teams has played pretty well, but offensively, we couldn't get anything going. It's the same old thing; we've got too many guys doing their own thing.'

On the other hand, SMU moved the ball effectively behind senior running back Keylon Kincade. Kincade had a busy first half, running for 61 yards on 19 carries. The Baylor defense struggled to stop Kincade throughout the night, partially because of the loss of junior defensive end Khari Long to a knee injury.

After a 47-yard field goal by junior place kicker Kenny Webb, the Bears were down 3-7. During halftime, the players were motivated by the director of strength and conditioning Coach John Williams.

'Big John came in and got us motivated by saying, 'If ya'll don't want to fight out there, then let's pick a fight right here [in the locker room]',' John Garrett, a senior middle linebacker, said. 'He started pushing people and got everybody motivated. I told everybody we better go out and play because this guy isn't messing around.'

The physical motivation from Williams seemed to be just what the Bears needed for the second half. On the first drive, after a 22-yard return by sophomore defensive back Willie Andrews, the Bears were able to run the ball in for a touchdown.

Armstrong recorded his first touchdown of the year on a four-yard run.

The touchdown was the boost the team needed. The defense held the Mustangs to just 104 yards of total offense and no points in the second half. A big part of the Bears' defensive stand was senior cornerback Matt Johnson's breakup for several deep passes.

'I played my technique like Coach [Wesley] McGriff has taught me throughout the fall and spring and just played for the ball,' Johnson said. 'I just wish I could have picked [the passes].'

Coach McGriff is the Bears' cornerbacks and defensive teams coach.

After last week's 52-14 loss to the University of North Texas, Saturday's win undoubtedly helped the team's confidence, Andrews said.

'After the last game, Morriss said he had never experienced a loss like that, so we decided to step it up and give him a W,' Andrews said.

Even though the game resulted in a victory, the Bears struggled on offense. Karas completed only 12 of 27 passes and was sacked four times. Armstrong ran for 57 yards on 25 attempts. The 182 total yards was the second lowest in a Baylor victory since 1956.

'It felt good to get that monkey off our back and get that first win,' Morriss said.